Transnational, untranslatable
Apollinaire in Freddy de Vree’s multilingual radiophonic composition A Pollen in the Air
in Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde
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In this chapter, a reading of the radio play A Pollen in the Air (1970), serves to demonstrate the transnational and multilingual nature of the aural neo-avant-garde against the backdrop of theories of the neo-avant-garde. A Pollen in the Air, a fictional and aural biography of Guillaume Apollinaire, was created by the Flemish poet and radio producer Freddy de Vree. The context of its production as well as the composition of the piece are steeped in the idea of crossing boundaries: the play involves an intertextual, stereophonic and multilingual collage of sounds and voices, recounting the life of Apollinaire. In combining several intertexts, such as Gunnar Harding’s Guillaume Apollinaires gåtfulla leende and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, the collage seems to efface the signature of De Vree as a creator, but in fact his creative contribution is recognisable in the selection of materials, the multilingual collage and the radiophonic effects. On an institutional as well as compositional level, the radio play is a result of avant-gardist cross-pollination. It is a work in which avant-garde views and strategies are brought together in a collage of intertexts, languages and electroacoustic manipulation.

Tuning in to the neo-avant-garde

Experimental radio plays in the postwar period

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