Tom Hannes

Tom Hannes - Work materials X-ED ESSAY. Photo Tom Hannes

X-ED ESSAY is an audio installation and performance based on Essay, a 1985 work by John Cage. For this work, Cage voiced 18 text fragments from Henry David Thoreau's anarchist manifesto Essay on the Duty of Civil Disobedience (1848). The text fragments varied greatly in length; the shortest no more than 20 lines, the longest 11 pages. The fragments were made equally long and superimposed electronically. The result was an extremely complex and fascinating flow of sound.

Cage expert, performer and Zen Buddhist Tom Hannes created a new version of this work for this exhibition, X-ED ESSAY. He voice recorded the 18 texts himself so that they would all last exactly 20 minutes. The longest texts were read out in an average speaking rhythm, for the shorter texts the sounds were held long, sometimes very long, without losing the colour of the speaking voice. The resulting work X-ED ESSAY is presented in STUK in a room within a room, surrounded by a walkway. Eighteen speakers, each playing one of the recorded texts, are arranged around a circle of meditation cushions and mats. The audience is invited to sit on the cushions and receive the sound in a Zen mix of clear focus and receptive relaxation. At various times, Tom Hannes will be present at the installation, in sitting or walking Zen meditation.


8 June, 19:00 - 23:00: opening night / vernissage
18 June, 14:00 -19:00: An afternoon Artefact sound
25 June, 14:00 - 19:00: final day / finissage

X-ED ESSAY, 2023
- 18-channel audio installation and performance

Courtesy the artist
Met dank aan De Grote Post
Commissioned by STUK, House for Dance, Image & Sound in the context of The Ecstatic Being. Between knowing and understanding (2023).

Tom Hannes
°1970, Antwerp, Belgium

Tom Hannes is a performer, Zen teacher and author of a dozen books on the link between Buddhism and our times, such as Zen of het konijn in ons brein (Witsand 2009), de Boeddha van de badkamer (Witsand 2011), Kleine meditatiegids (Polis 2018), Leven in het Nu (Polis 2019) en Waarom de Boeddha van lijstjes hield (Asoka 2022). He regularly writes society critical op-eds for De Standaard. Since 2020, he has been working as a philosophical researcher at the University of Eindhoven where he has been studying the impact of climate change on the relevance of Buddhist philosophy and practice. He was a Zen Buddhist monk for many years, but now lives and works with his family in Antwerp. An international performer of works by John Cage, he has collaborated with Ward Weis, Hermes Ensemble, Guy Vandromme, Ictus Ensemble, Zefiro Torna, Margeret Leng Tan and many others.

Portrait © Koen Broos