by Joćo Onofre 

(Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art)

featuring DARKMOON

at the Art | Basel 


June 8th 2008 @ Art|Basel – Basel - Switzerland


photos by S. W. Vogelaar


Apocalyptic Syndrome 
Darkmoon at Little Creek Studio 2007 
Darkmoon live Metal Dayz 2006 
Darkmoon live release party 2005
...of Bitterness and Hate
Darkmoon at Little Creek Studio 2005
Darkmoon live Deathwish 2005
Darkmoon live Gryphonparty II
Darkmoon live Deathwish 2004
Darkmoon live MetalForces VI
Black Domain



report by dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo ___     



Sculpture with  palpable experience.

"Box sized die" is a live performance of a Death Metal band inside a sculpture. Already the name of the project underlines the fusion of  concepts of death and life and the equilibrium between animated action and inanimate material. The Portuguese artist Joćo Onofre, of the group Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, has presented, at the Art in Basel, from 2 till 8 June 2008, his "Box sized die" creation that is inspired by the six foot metal cube of the minimalist artist Toni Smith, a structure we can date back to 1962. Just to give an example of how appreciated this minimalist art is, we can consider that 600-pound Toni Smith bronze cubes were donated to the University of Stanford (USA) by Toni Smith's estate at the end of 2002, giving eve more value to Stanford's outdoor art scene. 

Well, Joćo Onofre starts from this structure and, adding the human vital presence, provides a unique incredible, yet claustrophobic experience to the viewer. A Death Metal band is closed in a 183 x 183 x 183 cm metal cube and plays for a variable duration, until is getting gout of air. The motto of the performance is indeed "extreme music under extreme conditions". Now the question is, which is this unique experience? From the moment that he band is closed inside the cube, and therefore no longer visible, which is the sensation that this form of art tries to transmit to the audience? Of course a sense of claustrophobia, a sense of entrapment, a sense of asphyxiation and death, but ,surprisingly, at a certain point all this becomes quite marginal. 

Indeed, the big effect is left to the palpable and , partially, audible experience. The metal cube raised vibrations, raised a aura of  life you detected by putting your hands on the surface. The many handprints on the metallic surface were a spectacle  in the spectacle. The metallic prison, this hard edged sculpture,  truly  resonated palpable energy. The immense power of the Death metal music, played non-stop from the inside, alter the inanimate three dimensional geometry in a sort of "seed" of life. Beyond the astonishment due to the fact you know a four piece band is playing in this condition of entrapment, many of the visitors (also no- metalheads and from all ages) were actually fascinated by these vibrations and by the hardly hearable sound coming from the inside. Suddenly to me too the box changed his "face":  the claustrophobia vanished while the cube  has got the contour of a magic container, till the memories of the monoliths of the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey" floated my mind. The sound was detectable only  when  ears lied adjacent to the surface: drums and bass were the instruments you could recognize at once very well. If you knew at perfection all drums and bass lines of Darkmoon songs, you got no problem in individuating which track was played. Guitar (one, there is actually no  space for 3 strings, therefore the "box sized die" band must be in 4 -piece line up) and vocals were the hardest to be heard, although there were moments in which the voice and the guitar had the possibility to work their way out through the isolation material to the surface.


This was the second time that the Portuguese artist Joćo Onofre was working with a band for the Box sized Die project. After a Portuguese band who performed in Lissabon, now,  in Switzerland, for The Art in  Basel, Melodic Death Metallers Darkmoon were chosen. The project will be presented then in Israel with another band. Production manager Mr. Ricardo Custódio, with whom i have spoken before  the performance, told me that choosing a band for the Box sized die program is actually no easy thing. The genre of music and the characteristics of  the single members of the band must be compatible and up to the task. It was also nice to receive from Mr. Custódio information and, above all, to discuss a bit with him the meaning of the project. Needless to say, i was also at cloud nine by meeting Darkmoon, by watching the band engaged in a so unique project and by realizing once more how close various forms of art can be. This touch of subtle bio/inorganic osmosis was for me, who studied and thought biology, also a kind of personal short scientific rapture. Unforgettable moments were when the band entered the cube beginning to play while the door was about to be closed, and when the door was opened after 18 minutes letting emerge 4 totally sweat, but still quite fit, metal monsters. We, the visitors, wanted to see how were looking the musicians after this challenge.  They have been box sized and put in an extreme, critical condition . The waiting for the cube to be opened was hiding  rays of fear (although the project is 100% sure and controlled) and rays of morbid curiosity.  Closing the door is the passage to death, opening the door is the giving of life, is breathing again. Darkmoon played mighty tracks from their new album "Apocalyptic Syndrome": they started with the titletrack Apocalyptic Syndrome, played the thrashy mainly uptempo My Misery too and ended the performance with their "new trademark" Caravan of the Dead.  Sunday 08th June 2008 was the last day of a manifestation who started on June 2nd: today guitarist Gianrichy Giamboi was playing, giving alternation to the other guitarist Christian, who was anyway present in the audience, while, as drummer, Norman Leonhard from the band Fear My Thoughts (Century Media) has helped the Darkmoon guys, by taking the place of  their ex-drummer Hubi, who, at his turn, was substituting current Darkmoon drummer Laurent Strack who had to be in Paris during these days. Therefore, as Darkmoon fan,  i  thanked Norman Leonhard for his great support. Also i couldn't help to ask guitarist Gianrichy Giamboi and frontman Matthias Borer their impressions by playing  in such a sculpture. Both Matthias and Gianrichy found the thing very exciting but they didn't feel like to have been heroes or to like to have done something paramount. Pragmatic and grateful to the Contemporary Art Group, they were just satisfied and happy to have been part of the project, without showing any anxiety for claustrophobic disease.  The only problem was the raising temperature inside the closed cube. I expressed my congratulations to Gianrichy too for the presence of Norman Leonhard who, evidently, must have practiced and learned the material of Darkmoon... but, according to Gianrichy, this was really no problem for such a talented drummer like him, he is capable of doing this and much more...



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