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THE JUDGEMENT HALL, resistance in the age of surveillance capitalism

Interview by Piotr Bockowski

Lupus mixing sound in the company of butoh dancer Chadd Curry. Photo credit: NO.ONE.STUDIO

Lupus opened the portal of The Judgement Hall 4 years ago, at the same time setting a rather difficult challenge to the post-industrial music event scene in London. After receiving a Sikh warrior upbringing in Punjab (India), followed by Western medical education in England, his approach to sound and event curation transgresses the usual hedonism of raves as it marries an intense focus of metaphysical combat with penetrating tangibility of anatomical dissection.

The unique outcome invites an uncompromising pursuit of expanding cultural experience, which is carefully mapped on their website. The expertly weaved cosmology of Lupus’ arcane artistic influences has been embodied by the dedicated following of The Judgement Hall in a succession of 13 secret congregations set in a variety of obscure locations around East End or its extended peripheries.

In his first-ever interview, transcribed below for CLOT Magazine, Lupus enfolds the subversive context for his platform in anticipation of the most grandiose edition of the Judgement Hall, which will happen from noon to midnight of Saturday the 13th of November at the Silver Building on Docklands and bring together Athens-based industrial music act Morah, Berlin-based analogue power electronics act Donna Haringwey, tattoo/noise ritual Body of Reverbs, shibari session from Paraphilia Collective, durational Chronic Illness body performance by Aliceex & Fung Neo, screenings of art-house cinema selected by Drew Beckett, as well as an exhibition and exquisite, cross-genre DJ sets from the skeleton The Judgement Hall residents.

For our audience who is not familiar with your work, what is The Judgement Hall?

The Judgment Hall is an underground movement in London, a pocket of resistance in The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. It is a place where people congregate to explore the many kingdoms within human anatomy through the portal of avant-garde heavy music, cinematography, imagery, performance art, journals, record sessions and other forms of sorcery! It is much more about presenting the work of artists, bands, choreographers and directors that we love rather than emphasising the DJs playing those tracks.

I suppose the key thing that sets The Judgement Hall apart is that it does not only cater for the top 10% of a neuro-chemical experience, i.e. euphoria. The music is not geared towards providing one peak climatic experience after another. Rather, it is curated to set forth a challenging listening & viewing experience to allow the individual to explore the multitude of kingdoms within. It is a portal for those willing to explore realms that lay much deeper and are, therefore, more challenging to reach than those present in current-day club culture.

How is your curation related to the 21st-century context of Surveillance Capitalism?

Shoshana Zuboff’s book of the same title is, in my opinion, one of the most important texts of this century and really gives context to The Judgement Hall.  As much as it brings an acute sense of dystopia to my life, it is also my deepest romance. I am obsessed with the manner in which it has infiltrated every pocket of life on this planet, and I could talk about it all day!

Regarding the curation of our event in relation to other industrial sub-cultures within the context of 21st-century Surveillance Capitalism, I feel that everything has become an Amazon Prime experience. Same venues, same formula, machine gun techno from 11 pm-6 am and a real fear of doing anything outside of the box. I think people fear losing a following and close themselves into a very small, predictable box. I think it’s all part of the same thing, like a social credit system.

Everything is based on how many likes you get; therefore, repeating a tried and tested formula will always outweigh experimenting with and presenting something you truly love. This is the way society is being sculpted. I suppose we can avoid the prototypical ‘algorithm’ for creating a successful event by always setting our intentions on doing what we love, not what the masses demand. This reflects in what is presented and the settings in which it takes place.

Thinking about the challenges and pressures in putting on events: tell us about your unusual locations and other odd settings

The settings that we choose and the manner in which The Judgement Hall is conducted is done very much with Surveillance Capitalism in mind. Whether transporting people by boat across the River Styx to congregate under a bridge, carving open gates to flyovers or gathering in Chronic Illness’s bunker amid a plague, every step is taken to create an uncompromising experience.

The main challenge when doing something as outrageous as transporting people on a boat through the night is keeping everyone alive long enough to tell the tale! It’s also hard to navigate the underground mafia with a stranglehold on flyovers, tunnels, bunkers and other environments that would work beautifully. It is often the case that you spend months searching for a spot only to find out that you have to pay some wanker £700 to use it for the night or risk having a group of them turn up on the night with a loaded gun.

It’s fucked up, really, but whenever we choose a spot, it is somewhere that doesn’t have any of this nonsense attached to it. It is a clean process from start to finish. Another challenge are putting on these megalithic events without losing thousands of pounds. The reality is that most people in the ‘scene’ go out to party to fast-paced techno bangers. Therefore The Judgement Hall really isn’t for everyone as. Comparatively, it is a meeting with the devil! The following that we do have, however, is loyal to death! As long as they are committed to entering the portal, the gates to The Judgement Hall will remain open.

What are the artists and work that has sculpted the judgement hall? What are the media other than music that play a role in the events?

In many ways, the Judgement Hall was birthed on the mothership of KAOS London. The no-compromise mentality of Lee Adams really set an example for me. The genius of Chadd Curry’s sets also massively influenced my direction. The Judgement Hall sits somewhere between Orwell’s 1984 & Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, with the feel of Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan and the introspective journey of Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent.

Keiji Haino is the highest god at The Judgement Hall, so all respect to him. Stephen O’Malley and his various projects & collaborations, including the pinnacle that is Nazoranai alongside Keiji Haino and Oren Ambarchi. The Body defines my life more than another band, particularly their collaboration with a Uniform called Mental Wounds Not Healing.

I’ve seen three life-changing shows at Sadler Wells Theatre that profoundly influenced The Judgement Hall. The first was Damien Jalet’s Vessel, Sasha Waltz’s Körper and Crystal Pite & Kidd Pivot’s Revisor. These radically changed my perception of what a live experience can be. I’m also fascinated by the work of Dimitris Papaioannou, who brings his show to Sadler Wells on the 21st of October

Visually, the work of Shuji Terayama and the Tenjo Sajiki Theatre has really helped to sculpt the direction of events in the past couple of years. I am absolutely obsessed with Japanese underground psychedelic noise rock, and the world that it brings is almost always present at the events.

What is the online The Judgement Hall Museum – against the Internet landscape?

The Judgement Hall Museum is the most important component of the entire movement. It is a portal to albums, imagery, cinematography, performing arts, journals & radio shows that have inspired and helped to sculpt the events and record releases. At this stage, the archive is enormous and reflects the ethos behind The Judgement Hall, which presents the work of real geniuses that bring a great deal of meaning and joy to this lived experience. It is a portal within the cybernetic web that I hope a person from a future civilisation will stumble upon and think, “What is this weird shit that people used to do!”. I also take a huge amount of joy when people enter the portal and then attend a live show when one of the bands or choreographers that they discovered perform.

What will be your biggest curating extravaganza?

We already have the venue! The megalithic Silver Building is an absolutely perfect headquarters for us, and I can’t wait to put on fucked up events there. My extravaganza would be to have Damien Jalet choreograph a show in the gallery. The Body would headline the boiler room, and Nazoranai would score Jodorowsky movies in the cinema. At the same time, I would just as happily have Qujaku perform in The Judgement Hall II Coliseum or Anna Von Hausswolff play the organ in a castle!

You couldn’t live without…

I couldn’t live without the ability to coordinate my neuromusculoskeletal system. My biggest passion is experiencing life through awareness of movement! Of body and thought. I have dedicated my life to understanding the functioning of human anatomy, and if I had to choose one form of movement, it would be clinical Pilates. I definitely couldn’t live without Pilates.

(Images courtesy of Lupus)
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