At SFMOMA, in an exhibit called Soundtracks, they’ve assembled works that have a specifically audio component, revisiting some past commissioned works (by Brian Eno and Bill Fontana) and making space on the seventh floor of the museum for pieces that combine space with sound. Co-curator Rudolf Frieling says it’s an audacious idea: “We are very very conscious of the fact that we’re trying something almost impossible: which is to exhibit sound, one work after another.”
There’s more information about the exhibit, which runs through January 1st at the SFMOMA website.
It begins as you exit the elevator on the seventh floor: “We have a bold blue room, and we have two works that kind of play two solos, but hopefully also like each other and play together…” One is Richard T. Walker’s a paradox in distance, which is a photographic image of a mountaintop in a lightbox on a tripod, but one leg of the tripod is holding down a key on a portable keyboard. Across the room, it’s Moth in B-Flat, an installation by Anri Sala of a snare drum with drumsticks suspended from the ceiling, and playing rhythmically. There’s a room with a piece called Cantilena, small mechanical music and noise makers all operated by a single central rotating spindle. Celeste Boursier-Mougenot’s Clinamen creates an almost zenlike space, with a circle of wooden seating surrounding water. “It’s basically a pool with lots of white porcelain bowls in it,” Frieling explains. “And the pool is activated by a constant stream, so the bowls constantly move.” As they gently collide, they make an ever changing set of sounds. Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors is a large-scale installation of giant video screens, as a group of musicians play in sync from different rooms (and screens) of a country house. “You have a band that is performing remotely, but all connected. There’s one in the bedroom, the artist is in the bathtub, there’s someone in the living room, etc. And the soundtrack of that is one simple song that they keep performing over and over again.”