Vicky Pea attempts to get to the bottom of Badger Kull… and discovers a training course?
Photo credit: Paul Wilkinson / The KLF Facebook Group.
Badger Kull. One of the great dividers of Welcome To The Dark Ages and the hardest one to get a pulse on.
Was there a point and if so what was it? I really wish there wasn’t a point to it so I didn’t have to rack my brains but once again patterns, iconography, meaning and more are things I’m now obsessed with applying to the actions of The JAMS.
If I so wished I could delve deep into symbolic history and mythical references of Badgers, try to find connections to Discordia but I really do think that would be taking it too far, even if there have been some groovy ideas thrown around in the KLF Facebook group, even as far as referencing 1st-century BC figure Moritasgus.
Thankfully I sat on this for a couple of days before an idea did make itself clear to me, thanks to Oliver Senton’s fantastic sum up here and from taking part in the first Liverpool Arts Lab meeting. A pretty simple idea at that.
"Seek that which is not possible" pic.twitter.com/djOqz8ohAG
— Liverpool Arts Lab (@Liv_Arts_Lab) August 31, 2017
I’m starting to see Badger Kull in the same light as The Day Of The Book. A gift and a push. Just a slightly more structured one.
The more I think about it the more it makes sense that Badger Kull was step one in our Dark Ages education.
I’ve already discussed how The Day Of The Book (as well as providing surplus of creative energy for the ritual that followed) provided us with the smallest of pushes, out of our comfort zones and into our imaginations allowing us permission and freedom to create in any way we saw fit.
Badger Kull’s role was to show us how easy it could be in the first place… Whilst taking the piss out of the music industry (because I love that idea and come on it’s so JAMS).
Welcome To The Dark Ages was like a fast track training programme.
Day 1: Show how easy creating something exciting can be.
As with most training programmes stage 1 requires a little more interference. A framework if you will. So The JAMS provided us with a framework and an idea.
Here’s everything you need to make a band and the idea to make it in the first place. Here’s your brief. Now go out there and realise how easy it is to do, even with little experience, knowledge or resources. Just willingness.
Day 2: Show how easy it is to find inspiration.
This is where the Day Of The Book comes into it. We’ve shown them how easy something can be with a little push, now we’ll show them how easy it can be to come across inspiration. Like from a random page of a book, even a blank page in some cases, all it requires is the right mindset.
Inspiration can be drawn from anything and anywhere, going forward none of us should ever be allowed to utter the words “I just need some inspiration.”
Day 3: A Sprinkling Of Chaos.
Show us how fun and harmless breaking some of the rules can be. This crosses Day 2 and Day 3. We’ve all got our heads screwed on (it could be argued) and know when we’ve gone too far, but it’s ok to break some of the rules some of the time and something we’re probably going to have to get used to if we decide to stay on this creative journey.
What do you graduate from? Courses. God damn as always it seems so obvious from the other side.
Was the training course a success? Only time will tell through the future creations of the 400, The JAMS have done as much as they can, but if the first meeting of the Liverpool Arts Lab is anything to go by they’ve done a fine job.
I don’t want to give too much away in regards to the Arts Lab because if you’re interested in it, you should be there. Needless to say ideas evolved at a rate of knots. Not all of the attendees were in the 400 but it certainly feels like we’ve picked up where they left off.
All we need to do is remember the three things The JAMS taught us;
1 . Resources or lack of make no difference. It’s all about what using what skills and materials you do have in an effective and enthusiastic way.
2 . Inspiration can be found anywhere. If you’re ever stuck for any ever again I would even suggest repeating their example. Pick up a random book, turn to a random page, go make something.
3 . Be prepared to break the rules, or introduce a little chaos. Basically, have some fun.
— Ali Harwood (@HarwoodAliArt) August 31, 2017
Oliver put it perfectly and has made a summation of my own redundant this time out so I’ll leave you with his words.
“See how easily you can make a new band, with the will to do it and a bit of hard work? See how much art and inspiration we can create in a very short time, if we want to? There will be no new music, we were told… But oh, HOW much music we made! Chanting and choiring and thrashing bass guitars. WE made the music. WE made the art. The means of production was laid bare around us; all we had to do – all we have to do – is pick it up.”
A comment from @LoneResident
I’ve taught on the college level for a long time, and even though I love and respect my students dearly, there is one habit they repeat year after year that I would thoroughly destroy forever if I could.
It’s the one whereby they ask permission to be creative (usually expressed with an underlying and nagging hesitancy to act. Whether because of the perceived lack of access to resources and/or fixation on obstacles disguised as pre-established rule sets, they often seem to be waiting for a signal from beyond.
What Bill & Jimmy have always inspired and managed to do so brilliantly has been to demonstrate how utterly untrustworthy and malleable our perceptions of reality, authority and established structures are. Nothing feels safe in their hands because nothing is safe in anyones hands, they’re just reminding us of that.
I feel these were lessons learnt by many of us Gen X’ers while coming of age, but they’re not exclusive to us. Bill & Jimmy just help themselves to tools most folks think require prior authorization. They don’t ask, they act. Watching them go at it again after so many years was fucking grand and I’m very happy their inspiration lives on.
I’ve been a fan of all things Bill & Jimmy for a long time, so I excitedly followed all three days as best I could, albeit looking through the keyhole of Twitter. It was a bit of a downer to be relegated to observing only from the outside (I’m in Kansas for fuck’s sake), but there was no other meaningful way to experience what was actually happening on the ground.
So, the Badger Kull gimmick was an interesting gift of sorts. I had no way of knowing what its real intent was or whether it was important or annoying in relation to the JAMs true motives – or to the 400’s experiences – and I didn’t care.
Half if not more of everything we do is based on partial understandings anyway (in my opinion) so why should this be anything more than what it was? However, whether intended or not, I do think there was a unique facet to it. I can only speak for myself obviously, but whatever the Badger Kull stuff meant to Bill & Jimmy and the 400, it also turned out to be one of the only real points of entry for those of us outside the project.
Welcome to the Dark Ages was a spectacle that was clearly structured as an exclusive event, even though some of its moving parts were very visible and unfolded publicly. If you weren’t one of the 400, you were at best only able to partially participate via the Internet – certainly not formally. The JAMs made no provisions to tend to the curiosities of onlookers from afar, or to allow for meaningful participation by anyone other than those on the ground.
Yet, there were also no formal restrictions from trying. The obstacles were mostly unavoidable after all. The thing has to happen someplace and not everyone can be there that wants to be. Wanting to go beyond the silent social media voyeur role, I simply began making and posting Badger Kull art starting day one and had a great time doing it.
Whether it was superficial or meaningful involvement didn’t matter to me. Everyone in Liverpool seemed to be having a ripping good time and I just wanted to join in. I doubt I’ll ever have a real sense of what happened, but that’s OK. The JAMs are back and, as I said the first day, 2017 has been officially redeemed.
You can keep up to date with Vicky’s Welcome To The Dark Ages experiences on Twitter @vxpeax