The Idea of South Live Performance


Date: December 14th 2014
Schedule: 7pm
Location: Belmonte Cultural Club Cafe
Address: Pateo Dom Fradique, 14 – 1100-624 Lisboa
Contacts: +351 218816600 _

Artist/Author: Simon James Phillips
Curated by: Maria and Frederic Coustols / Belmonte Cultural Club
 DaST, WOA-Way of Arts
Sponsors: CML-Agenda Cultural de Lisboa, Palacio Belmonte Lisboa lda


THE IDEA OF SOUTH is a performance of live improvised solo piano by Simon James Phillips alongside the Frank Hurley film SOUTH (1916), which is a chronicle of Ernest Shackleton’s attempt to cross the Antarctic. 2014 marks the centenary of the beginning of the expedition.

The story of Shackleton’s attempt to cross Antarctica is awe inspiring. I often think about the extreme characteristics of the Antarctic – its vastness, isolation, climate, and in particular the behaviour of the ice and land itself. To travel there in 1914, and to be marooned for two years, with very primitive technology (by our standards) to me is almost unimaginable. The film SOUTH itself seems to me to portray very modestly the struggle that these men must have undergone. I get almost no hint of the fear, loneliness, and absolute isolation they must have experienced. I particularly miss a sense of time – I wonder how it must have felt to be stuck for months on end in the endless cold and endless white of that land. Whilst practicing with the film for the first performance, I also found myself thinking of the incredibly slow but immense movement and energy of the Antarctic.

“Although I do not intend to accompany the film as such, I chose to work with SOUTH because I believe that my aesthetic can provide the sense of time, isolation and the struggle (both in internal and external) that the film only hints at.”


Simon is a Berlin based pianist from Australia – he trained as a classical pianist in Australia and Sweden but now works primarily as an experimental improvising pianist.

Musically, he constructs an open sonic atmosphere that provides the audience with time to reflect upon and explore the sound. By controlling the pace of a piece’s development, his intention is to affect the perception of time through music. Simon is influenced by electronic music, and is particularly interested in trying to replicate the mechanical and repetitive sounds that surround us. He is also attracted to the tension between trying to recreate inorganic sound with the piano and the limitations of the instrument and his own physical mechanism.

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