Thanks to Panamarenko, Agnès Varda, and the shoes of the singer’s father, Sigi Willems.
What if we could connect with plants and animals in the fight against climate change to come up with solutions together? This is what Nono Problemo imagined in their new song Are you equally weird???
“We take it as a kind of science for the 99%,” says singer Sigi Willems. The characters in the video are scientists outside the ordinary circle who do independent research with DIY tools. This is how they try to communicate with our fellow non-humans. Through their research, these scientists want to give a voice to our non-human counterparts, kind of politicizing these non-human actors.
The critical reader might think we’ve known how to tackle climate change for a long time, but we simply do nothing about it. Nona Problemo doesn’t call themselves a “radically naive ecowave band” for nothing. Although, in this case, Williams sees it differently. Today, especially in big city life, culture and nature seem to be kept apart, while in reality our interests remain intertwined. To combat global warming, I believe we in the West need to invent new, more equal ways of living together. This requires new skills and forms of knowledge with which we try to reduce the gap between humans and nature.
What we can also learn is that we are all equally silly. For example, if you go to Planet Earth Look and see sightings of prehistoric fish so mystical, I’m always amazed at how strange all life on Earth can be. In the end, we all live here on the same planet and are all equally ridiculous. Within the neoliberal rat race that characterizes our modern society, we seem to have fewer and fewer opportunities to cultivate that wonder.
To depict this amazement, Nona Problemo also made a video clip for the new song. Shoes require a significant amount of screen time. As a band we started playing in my dad’s attic. On the stairs there is a whole bunch of worn-out shoes, because my father never threw them away. Every time we have to run up those stairs with our musical equipment, we trip over those shoes and some of them fall off,” laughs Willems. It inspired me to start with such a daily suggestion in spirit Les Glaneurs et la GlaneuseAgnès Varda movie. In it, Varda follows all kinds of people who give a second life to everyday products that others see as waste. Think, for example, of the people who pick and eat the “faulty” potatoes that the farmer throws out.
Nona Problemo was influenced by several films while creating the clip. Another source of inspiration was Ken Dza Dza, a Soviet science fiction film from 1986. In that film, an average Soviet construction worker suddenly finds himself in another dimension, one in which capitalism is embodied. This movie is full of Panamarenko-like physical constructs, the aesthetics of which were very nice. Bas Duchâteau, our director, scours the Vossenmarkt here in Brussels for materials, then lets his imagination run wild on them to build the structures in the video.
nature and technology
Nona Problemo seems to have a somewhat dual relationship with modern technology. On the other hand, musicians plead for an escape from modern technology and all the distracting screens that constantly surround us. On the other hand, they are inspired by movies and make videos of themselves to watch on screen. Willems agrees: “We also realize that we’re not involved in serious politics. Primarily we make music and then we simply sing about the topics that are close to our hearts.” What we do is kind of aestheticize our social message, in order to try to provide a playful counterpoint to the ubiquity of Western capitalist ideology. But after watching our video, people can throw their smartphone or laptop in the trash. (Laughs)
After a short silence, Williams wants to discern that message somewhat. At the end of the video, you can see one of my dad’s shoes standing on top of a TV as a kind of flower pot. This actually sums up the message pretty well: We need to look for some kind of synthesis between technology and nature. After all, the technology itself isn’t bad, just the way it’s used. We currently live in an economy of attraction where large multinational corporations are constantly fighting for our time because that is how they make profits. But smartphones and televisions also have the potential to be used for social purposes. In the first place, we hope our clip provides food for thought on exactly that relationship between nature and technology. And that people think it’s a great song, of course.
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