THEY SAID! on Julius Eastman’s Prelude to The Holy Presence of Joan d’ Arc, Jessica Higgins, 2024, TGIGIFFY, 18 x 25.5 cm, 24 pages, PB
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We’re excited to finally release ‘THEY SAID!' On Julius Eastman’s Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc’ by Jessica Higgins. Jessica is an artist and writer based in Glasgow who is intrinsically linked to TGIFITIFFY in a number of ways: contributor, occasional editor, stoker of some excited cinders. However, here she brings her “solo voice” writing a fan’s essay-on-music over 24 pages.

THEY SAID! simmers, boils and simmers again on the 1981 solo vocal composition Prelude to the Holy Presence of Joan d’Arc. Language, listening and voice are at the core of the essay. As is the relationship between Julius Eastman and Joan d’Arc which, as readers, we’re invited not to divide into two individual histories but encouraged to consider a singular position which both figures may have inhabited across distances. The essay opens with an exclamation mark which weaves through the text, alive with an open sense of speculation and inquiry as we explore the many facets of Prelude.

Letter (writing) is a central reference — given Eastman’s penchant to put pen to paper, bringing the personal into the open — and the text itself reads like a letter being written or a conversation unfolding. It is swift and agile, carrying us along as it joins the dots, while breaking at times for a moment of improvisation, silence, or a prompt to speak. Formally, we hear the voices not just of Jessica, but of Eastman (of course!), Joan of Arc, Gertrude Stein and scholars of Eastman’s life, which offer a gentle introduction for those who may not be familiar with his life and work. An engagement with letters — as in correspondence as well as units of language — are at the core of our reading of the song. Complexity and simplicity were central to Eastman’s practice and character in the same way a letter can “tell all”, an exclamation mark can give a little more.

Jessica Higgins is an artist and writer based in Glasgow. Working primarily in performance, film, sound and text, she is preoccupied with the voice and its entanglement in social infrastructures, as well as the form and question of performance.
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