On Thursday 1 November we opened ‘PooR Life by dog people’ at Transition Two Gallery in London. The show is developed through our mutual interests in fandom, poor copies and amateur-expertise: “Their interest in the confluence between avant-garde and mainstream culture finds curious expression through both solo and collaborative works”.
On Friday I returned to the gallery to drop off a lead and was pleased to see a group of MA students from Chelsea visiting the show. One of the visitors remarked on the title of the show ‘dog people’ and asked me if it was in any way related to ‘skiladiko’ in Greek; a derogatory term which refers to ‘the dog people’ – or those who enjoy skyladika music (dog music) a variation of laika songs associated with mass entertainment of low quality and “the music of alienated migrants who came to the big cities to work from the rural areas”.
Skyladika has roots in 60s and 70s Greek music which jams with elements from Arabic and Middle Eastern music and is considered as an expression of degradation and social decadence.There are many (questionable) reasons for the term Skyladika or dog music. Some say the name relates to the concentration of street dogs that would congregate outside nightclubs where these songs are performed to eat the scraps of boiled veal “which was impossible to eat, and was usually fed to … dogs”; others say it refers to the quality of singing which is said to resemble “a dog’s lament and cry”. Despite its negative association, skyladika music is widely popular in working class areas of Greek cities and villages. This inight into our work is absolutely relevant and fascinating!
Perhaps their is a singularity in the concept of ‘dog people’ in our show, which absolutely relates to the skyladika particularly in terms of our interest in the amateur, fan art and poor copies. In particular I am interested in how the skyladika cannot be considered a subculture in the way that for instance punk was, or a form of high culture the way that contemporary art is, precisely because this form of music embraces and inhabits the most mainstream of all music in Greece. On occupying fandom through our show, I’m interested in the subversive and world-building potentials of occupying the mainstream – particularly as subcultures like punk always get recuperated into mainstream capital anyway.
Beth and I also liked the idea that there are two kinds of people in this world: dog people and cat people. We both 100% identify as dog people, and this became a way of us thinking about the kind of publics we belong to or who might form around our productions. (In my previous post, it was a dog who interrupted our phonecall too). We are also both really interested in thinking of Fandom as an embodied experience (rather than just an imitation) and one of the ways this manifests for us is when people look like their own pets. We want to believe that it is absolutely true that dog owners look like their dogs. 🐶🐶