Mixing poetry with rap, slam, illustration and storytelling: Bard Baitman and Elijah Elpenor performing at indieBerlin immersion this Friday.

Bard Baitman and Elijah Elpenor performing at indieBerlin immersion 16.11 with indieBerlin

Our indieBerlin immersion event is set to happen on this Friday 16th November at Entropy Collective Berlin, with a mixture of visual arts, music, poetry and spoken word. Two of our immersive poetical and spoken word artists, Bard Baitman and Elijah Elpenor, gave us some insight into their creative writing process and their ideas on immersion.

Bard Baitman is a storyteller and illustrator, having studied at Bezelel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem. He specialises in animation, using both 2D and 3D forms to develop characters and rich stories, spinning many ideas and influences within his performances. He performed at Zuruck zu den Wurzeln Fest this summer, questioning audience and himself in a truly immersive storytelling experience.

Bard Baitman to perform at indieBerlin immersion on 16.11 at entropy collective

Self-portrait by Bard Baitman

Elijah Elpenor from LA, or “Mr E”, is likely to blow you away with his voice projection and performance style, weaving in rap influences, powerful spoken word and slam with some traditional poet styles. He is currently developing and running Berlin Untelevised, an online website and platform for poets, rappers and other talented artists, as well as the podcast The DubTalk, discussing rap amongst other art forms. Elijah also hosts live sets on YouTube, creates mixtapes, and hosts his own poetry event in Berlin called Domicilium.

indieBerlin: Why do you think it’s important to mix art forms?

Bard: Because you get to have many different perspectives, and see many different things that matter to the people who make them; you get to wonder why these things are important enough to them to disrupt their lives to come and share them with an audience; you get to wonder, also, if these things are also important to you…

Elijah Elpenor: “Important” is perhaps the wrong word here. The mixing of art forms is the natural state of things, or rather, the state of things as they naturally want to be. Human beings are want to seek out patterns, create order, categorize. Nature is dynamic, formless, boundless. Art springs forth from that. We impose limits to comprehend it, but we contain multitudes. In the past, these multitudes were restricted to being expressed through one medium due to all sorts of circumstantial obstacles, e.g., wealth, class, access, knowledge, etc. A painting, a book, a composition, these are investments. They take time and money. They require space and concentration. They are demanding of their creators. I think we are edging closer to a world in which it is concretely possible for the artist to realize their responsibility to embrace the multitudinous nature of the spirit. That’s a thrilling prospect.

When I feel an urge to create, I try to just stop whatever I’m doing and DO IT. To let myself have what feels right.

 

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indieBerlin: What does immersion mean to you?

Bard: All senses and inputs being engaged to the point that everything but the here and now falls away…

Mr. E: Immersion is the act of leading a person on a visceral journey. Art that gives one goosebumps does so in part because it is immersive. Something in it has cut through to your feeling mind and given it a jolt. Immersing an audience in a piece of art lends that group of people a small taste of what it was like to be in the artist’s brain at the time of the piece’s creation. A deeply personal kind of sharing.

indieBerlin: How has Berlin inspired your work?

Bard: Berlin inspires me to be my weirdest and most authentic self because it feels like there is room for every kind of self-expression. More than that – it feels like variety and expression are celebrated here. I get to push myself and try so many new forms of creativity!
I write about Berlin, I write with it, I sing it show-tunes about my fave bridges while I walk home at night… It inspires me in every conceivable way.

Elijah Elpenor at indieBerlin immersion Friday at Entropy CollectiveindieBerlin: Tell us a little bit about your literary/poetical/spoken word background.

Mr. E: I started writing poetry at the age of 16 after being introduced to the poem “How to Write a Political Poem” by Taylor Mali. The professor teaching the course in which I heard this poem for the first time managed to dissuade me of my false assumption that poetry was an art form reserved for old white farts. In so doing, she sparked a passion for performance poetry in me that I didn’t know existed. I spent the next couple of years running around L.A. performing poetry heavily influenced by slam. Since then, I’ve moved away from slam in favour of a more convoluted and perhaps even impressionistic style of poetry that concerns itself with the sonic delivery of the words themselves and the emotions that can be conveyed to an audience through sound and physicality.

Nature is dynamic, formless, boundless. Art springs forth from that. We impose limits to comprehend it, but we contain multitudes.

Design by Bard Baitman

indieBerlin: If your work was a movie, which genre would it be in?

Bard: Action/adventure. Honestly, my life’s purpose is to make something that is as whole and perfect as Terminator 2 – but that’s just because I like aiming above my abilities. It’s nice to be ambitious but no film will ever surpass it, I think…

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indieBerlin: How did you come up with the name Elijah Elpenor?

Mr. E: It was a bit of a process. I took Elpenor as a last name after reading the story of an eponymous character in The Odyssey. Essentially, he gets wasted at a celebration, climbs on a roof, passes out, wakes up in the morning to see his fellow soldiers departing the island, and in his dazed, hurried state, walks right off of the roof to his death. The troop then runs into him later in the story when they visit Hades, where he informs them that his death wasn’t intentional but the result of an unfortunate lapse of judgment. I read the story at around the same time I started thinking more seriously about using a nom de plume, and it was just too jokes not to use. Jump forward a couple of years and I’ve decided to use my middle name to compliment Elpenor. I’m a sucker for alliteration, so honestly, I don’t know how it didn’t dawn on me immediately.

I write about Berlin, I write with it, I sing it show-tunes about my fave bridges while I walk home at night… It inspires me in every conceivable way.  

indieBerlin: Tell us a secret about yourself.

Bard: I am descended from clowns. For real.

indieBerlin: Who is another poet/spoken word artist you listen to or read religiously?

Bard: I don’t do anything religiously… I’m too chaotic and inconsistent. But I’ve recently been binging Contrapoints’ arthouse philosophy videos on YouTube.

Mr. E: Walt Whitman is someone whose work I return to every few months. I’ve got a small copy of the 1855 Edition of Leaves of Grass whose pages have gifted me much wisdom in tumultuous times.

Honestly, my life’s purpose is to make something that is as whole and perfect as Terminator 2

indieBerlin: How does the writing process work for you?

Mr. E: It varies from form to form. When writing poetry, there’s a lot of furious scribbling and isolation involved. I tend to mutter lines to myself and look generally a bit whacked out. A poem is a lot like a puzzle for me; it’s very easy to focus intensely on its completion.

Bard Baitman coming to indieBerlin immersion

Character and concept by Bard Baitman

Bard: I have millions of ideas that fascinate me, and sometimes I have enough discipline to sit and write them down… I try to train myself to be better about recording them, in video or writing or audio. But I am not a very disciplined person and chaos is in my essence as a human and as a creator. I am inconsistent and messy. I tried various ways of “dealing” with it, but some things just refuse to be subdued. All my attempts wound up feeling uncomfortable and wrong. So I try to be intuitive and flexible, instead of disciplined and structured.

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When I feel an urge to create, I try to just stop whatever I’m doing and DO IT. To let myself have what feels right.

It’s not very productive but it feels less stressful – which is important for me in this specific period in my life, where one of my main goals for this year is to reduce my anxiety levels.
After I have an idea down – I edit it a ton. I love editing.Elijah Elpenor performing at indieBerlin immersion 16.11 entropy collective

I read it out loud to myself, then to other people, then edit some more.
When I feel like I’m bursting with excitement for people to hear/see it – I let myself share it.

indieBerlin: Where do you get your inspiration from?

Mr. E: A lot of my inspiration comes from the artists I know. One of the things that most consistently inspires me is a monthly event I run called Domicilium. My partner and I curate a line up of 6 performers. We invite them to share a piece of their vision of the world with us and our audience over a 10-15 minute set. I’m so consistently amazed by what the performers do and how the audience receives their insight and vulnerability with such attentive warmth. We’ve been running the event since January at a bar called Deriva, and I always come away feeling grateful and renewed.

A poem is a lot like a puzzle for me; it’s very easy to focus intensely on its completion.

indieBerlin: What was the nicest compliment you once got?

Bard: An expert on machine learning told me about a fear that rips through the scientific community, of AI and machine learning’s future – and proceeded to say that I have a great mind and that the scientific community needs the help of people like me. I took it upon myself as a sort of quest. Scientists of the world can breathe a relieved sigh – I am working on something!

 

Check out Elijah’s DubTalk podcast, Berlin Untelevised website and Facebook, as well as his Facebook artist page for updates, videos, events and more. Don’t forget to discover Bard Baitman’s website and Facebook page to witness his many artistic talents!

Remember to catch these artists perform live, come down to indieBerlin immersion this Friday at 19h @ Entropy Collective Berlin, Friedenstrasse 62. To find out more look at our Facebook event!

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