R.I.P. Suzanne Fiol, Founder and Director of Issue Project Room


Suzanne Fiol, who founded the itinerant new-music venue Issue Project Room in an East Village garage in 2003 and who shepherded the venue through three successive spaces, died yesterday, after a long struggle with cancer. In this paper’s archives you will find any number of raptures about the sheer creativity of the spaces she turned into venues–an oil silo on the Gowanus; the Old American Can Factory; and a magnificently crumbling theater at 110 Livingston, which when it opens in 2010 or 2011 will be the Carnegie Hall of experimental music in New York–and as many bemused descriptions of Fiol herself. She was charming. The first night I met her, at the Gowanus space in January of 2007, we drank water and red wine out of plastic cups and talked about the Baltimore noise duo Nautical Almanac. She was 46, curly-haired, stylish, and striking.

I wrote an piece about Issue Project and a festival it was holding at the time as if I were the first guy to discover the place and the musicians who had been playing there regularly for years. She was remarkably kind about what was an almost unfathomable degree of ignorance on my part, and thanked me for the article. We stayed in touch some, and for a while, frequently ran into each other around town.

The last time I saw Suzanne was last year, after an Ikue Mori performance at the Japan Society. We’d both been taken with Mori’s live soundtrack to Maya Deren’s silent film, At Land, which begins with Deren washing up on a beach and ends with her running down the sand toward the horizon, leaving behind an unbroken row of footprints. The projector at the Japan Society had flickered, and then cut out just before the film ended. Afterwards, Fiol asked: “At the end, she goes back into the water, right?”