Waking Up Warhol

With this in mind, Absolut put together an
eclectic team of musicians and artists to reach
out and in an effort to talk to the man himself.

It’s fun to think of what a hero from the not so distant past would be doing today. How they might fit into the current landscape, how they might have changed. For an artist so intrinsically a part of pop culture like Andy Warhol, you can’t help thinking he’d still be a vital part of the artist community in some way. Would he still throw the parties? Probably. Still, we feel the need to double check, as it were. On October 1st, a longtime collaborator of Warhol’s, Absolut, will be gathering a new generation of artists to reach out into the unknown, and possibly hear something back from a cultural figure a lot of creatives have come to see as a friend they never met. He is after all, one of the architects of the downtown New York world that caused so many of us to move here in the first place. His indelible mark is everywhere; in the galleries, in the social world, and once again on a bottle of Absolut.

With this in mind, Absolut put together an eclectic team of musicians and artists to reach out and in an effort to talk to the man himself. German artists Schnellebuntebilder, world renowned DJ and producer A-Trak, and Leif Elggren, three entirely different artistic entities, will come together, with a special performance that will attempt to contact the other side for another collaboration between Warhol and Absolut. For his part, conceptual artist Leif Elggren will be using so called “EVP machine” (Electronic Voice Phenomena). In his words, it’s “a technique that was developed in relation to when electricity was introduced for ordinary people in our societies (radio, telephone, electric light, etc.).”

I spoke with Elggren just after he visited the site of Warhol’s Factory to find out more about his involvement in the project, and feelings about the artist.

What has your relationship to Warhol's work been previous to this project?
Leif Elggren: He was a very interesting guy and artist. I really like his attitude and his way of keeping his integrity intact behind that persona that he created. Fantastic also with all those people around him that sort of, what I understand, was more or less nourished by this complex person. But also, I believe that he was very much nourished by all these people that he was hanging out with. A sort of giving and taking in a fruitful dialogue, and a lot of interesting things came out of it. I am from Sweden and I can not resist comparing it a little with the film maker Ingmar Bergman; I think he was also a bit like that, surrounded by a large group of people that he worked very close together with, like a big family. That fed each other both artistically and mentally. Bergman of course was totally another character.

How has that relationship changed since you starting work on this? Do you see it going down a specific path? 
I think I understand a bit more what he was doing, what he was working with and what he wanted to achieve. I definitely appreciate his life’s work much more now.

You've called Warhol a 'social wizard'—what role do you think parties and socializing play in making art, if any at all?
 The social life of course, is extremely important. Warhol seemed to have had special skills for to combine his work practice and to socialize with people. There were no borders between the different activities, it seems.

How was the vibe outside of Warhol's old factory? Does it still feel like a place of work? Is there a mood or a specific frequency that you're getting from your recordings? 
Well, I am working on that material right now, but I was there a week ago and have successfully captured a few voices there. I could not come in into the building so I had to be in the entrance hall, very close to the street. But nevertheless, I think a couple of these voices are interesting, very mild and gentle voices.

If we do in fact make contact, what comes next? No one can be sure. In coming together to reach out to the other side however, we will invoke his spirit regardless of what the night brings.