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frieze video - 16 Nov 2018

‘A Silver Cornet Laid on Red Velvet’: Cosey Fanni Tutti’s ‘The Thing’

The Throbbing Gristle member and multimedia artist discusses a beloved instrument which has become a lifelong companion

2:08

Cosey Fanni Tutti’s cornet goes right back to 1976 and her Throbbing Gristle days: ‘Sleazy wanted to play a cornet on stage and bought one, but he couldn’t get a sound out of it. So, I tried and got a sound straight away’, she explains.

‘The cornet has a really wonderful tone to it, and it’s become an iconic sound.’

‘It’s plaintive,’ she says, ‘and it can go from something very soft, to something very hard. It’s like a huge exclamation mark.’

A few years ago the artist contracted shingles in her ear and suffered from facial paralysis: ‘I couldn’t play the cornet, I couldn’t even suck a straw’ she says. But she was determined to play again and bought a piccolo trumpet to practice on. ‘It took about a year, and the moment I could play it again I was just so happy.’

‘I only polish it once in a blue moon. I don’t want it to really sparkle, like a brass band. It has a little wear and tear’, she explains, ‘but it’s still functioning – like me I suppose.’

Cosey Fanni Tutti is a renowned multimedia artist presently working on a new solo album due for release in February 2019. Her autobiography ART SEX MUSIC is published by Faber & Faber.

‘The Thing’ is a new series of eight short films starring Jarvis Cocker, Neil Tennant, Cosey Fanni Tutti, Goshka Macuga, Jeremy Scott, Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Mack and Haegue Yang. For the series, Frieze asked each artist to choose a single object of significance from their working or living environment and discuss what makes it special. Directed by Peter Strickland and produced by Jacqui Edenbrow, the series is based on a long-running frieze d/e magazine column, ‘Das Ding’, featuring artists such as Brian O'DohertyAdrian Piper and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry. Read all the previous series’ respondents here.