THE JUDGEMENT HALL, resistance in the age of surveillance capitalism
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 November at the Silver Building in 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.
Interview by Piotr Bockowski
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 the emphasis being on the DJ’s 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 with the purpose of allowing the individual to explore the multitude of kingdoms within. All in all, 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 11pm-6am and a real fear of doing anything outside of the box. I think people are fearful of losing a following and therefore 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 and therefore repeating a tried and tested formula will always outweigh experimenting with and presenting something that you truly love. This is the way society is being sculpted. I suppose we are able to 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 it be 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 in the midst of 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 that has 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 kind of 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. Other challenges are how to put on these megalithic events without losing thousands of pounds. The reality is that the majority of people in the ‘scene’ go out to party to fast-paced techno bangers and 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 the 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?
The Judgement Hall in many ways was birthed on the mothership of KAOS London. The no-compromise mentality of Lee Adams really set the example for me. The genius of Chadd Curry’s sets also massively influenced the direction that I took. 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.
The highest god at The Judgement Hall is Keiji Haino 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, in particular, their collaboration with Uniform called Mental Wounds Not Healing.
I’ve seen three life-changing shows at Sadler Wells Theatre that had a profound influence on 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 landscape of the Internet?
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 really reflects the ethos behind The Judgement Hall, which is to present 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 in
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 human anatomy and if I had to choose one form of movement it would be clinical Pilates. I definitely couldn’t live without Pilates.