This radical psychology album is the sleeping hit of 2019
Noam Chomsky and Nadya Tolokonnikova jump on “I Am (Not) a Monster” by Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian, an album and a documentary inspired by the teachings of Hannah Arendt.
Revolution on wax? Music and politics are inextricably linked long before Trump announced his presidential campaign while descending a golden escalator to Neil Young’s “Rockin In The Free World.” In fact, records have been used to mobilize grassroots social movements since vinyl became the dominant form of music distribution in the 21st century; freedom fighters from the American civil rights movement released vinyl presses of speeches and field recordings, and as The Clash introduced ‘Sandinista’ into the vocabulary of British teenagers, Nicaraguan leftists organized to the beat by the troubadour of the pro-labor movement Carlos Mejía Godoy. Even Bernie Sanders released a spoken word album, We will overcome, in 1987; whose reissue landed him at n ° 116 on Billboard Top New Artist Chart in February 2016.
If you don’t know Nelly Ben Hayoun-Stépanian, an underground university experiment designer and documentary maker, you are probably familiar with some of the names of her first official vinyl release. I am not a monster, a collaboration with The Vinyl Factory, includes contributions from legendary linguist Noam Chomsky, activist Pussy Riot Nadya Tolokonnikova, former Sheffield Mayor Magid Magid and Osaka-based roboticist Hiroshi Ishiguro.
The disc accompanies that of Hayoun-Stépanian Grierson Award nominated documentary, also titled I am not a monster, which is previewed at BFI London Film Festival tonight, October 10. The feature film draws on the groundbreaking teachings of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt, best known for popularizing the term “Banality of evil” and who also studied the twisted psychology of the main drivers of the Nazi regime. Dressed in Arendt and armed with puppets, Hayoun-Stépanian explores how today’s right-wing political leaders have captured people’s imaginations by reviving ideologies of the past.
“Signing, as a filmmaker, a record-breaking collaboration with the Vinyl Factory and releasing my film – which is the source of knowledge – on a record means that I can come up with a new distribution model for independent filmmakers,” said Hayoun-Stépanian. “The film presents some of my core beliefs in thinking through experiences, experimental actions and independent education; to know for me: 1) education must be free and we must create our own economic systems to maintain it; 2) education should exist beyond nation states as a transnational entity, independent of government policy; 3) schools must maintain plurality both in their approach but also in their leadership.
For more information on the radical thinker nicknamed “the Willy Wonka of design” and the master’s program she runs in the basement of an Amsterdam nightclub – the very first “free master’s program,” pluralist and transnational “in the design of experiments – see Document to deepen on metro university from our next Fall / Winter 2019 issue.