At Berlin Art Week 2015 we show works dealing with music for the first time – after having presented an exhibition on theater, performance, and dance at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer theater in Berlin several weeks before.
In the shelter on the open space in the front part of FAHRBEREITSCHAFT, a work by Santiago Sierra is installed. All national anthems of the EU member states were played at once: A horrible cacophony that aptly characterizes the current state of the union (Europe (national anthems of the 27 states of the European community played simultaneously and continuously), 2009).
In the freshly renovated Pförtnerhaus (gatehouse), we exhibit Rodney Graham’s video Two movements for prepared cello (2010), in which the artist searches for his cufflinks in a cello – his commentary on the renowned bare-breasted performances of Charlotte Moorman. Situated adjacently is a glass display case with a small booklet by Ed Ruscha from the 1970s: Records (1971). In it, one LP is depicted on each spread: The cover on the left and the record itself on the right. A work by Christian Marclay, which we installed next to it, also shows an unusual treatment of records. Record without sleeve (1985), is, as the name already indicates, delivered without a sleeve and has naturally become quite scratched over time. A second piece by Marclay, Footsteps (1989), goes even further: the vinyl simply lies on the ground and can be stepped on.
In the neighboring room, Tim Lee challenges visitors with a special version of the Goldberg Variations by Bach (The Goldberg Variations, Aria, BMV 988, 1741, Johann Sebastian Bach (Glenn Gould), 1981). He recorded the notes played by the left and right hands separately and had the recordings pressed on separate singles. Visitors are then challenged to bring the two hands together again – on two record players independent of one another.
Stephen Prina, in turn, examines the piano oeuvre of Arnold Schönberg in an interpretation by Glenn Gould – A structural analysis and reconstruction of Arnold Schönberg (1980). The surveying of the vinyl record thus also stands for the relationship between time and space.
Album covers painted by Martin Creed are shown in the two downstairs rooms of the Einsatzleitung. A mass product hence becomes a one-of-a-kind work and thus calls for careful handling.
Signifying a highlight of our exhibition are new works by Marino Formenti. He has been working for years on interrogating his métier: music. Celebrated by critics as the “Glenn Gould of the twenty-first century” – and with performances at concert halls in New York, Paris, Vienna, and London – he creates ever-new spaces for encounter, thus abolishing the classical hierarchy, the separation of performer and recipient. Formenti works both in a musical context and in the field of art (Art Basel, MUMOK Vienna, 2011) or in a performative field (Berliner Festspiele, 2016). He strives for encounters on an equal footing, hence also at FAHRBEREITSCHAFT.
For the exhibition in the Einsatzleitung, he developed the work Selber Künstler #1 (An artist myself #1, 2015). Serving as groundwork for this installation are tonal impressions of his performance Seven studies of communication and musicianship, featured at FAHRBEREITSCHAFT in July 2015. For this project, he met with seven “strangers” who work on site. These encounters each lasted an entire day and were characterized by conversations and collaborative music-making. The acoustic results become the basis for the installation presented in the seven rooms on the first floor of the Einsatzleitung. A sound portrait of FAHRBEREITSCHAFT thus arises.
For the performance One to one #2 (2015), Marino Formenti spent eleven days with a piano in Garage 50 of FAHRBEREITSCHAFT. From September 10 to 20, 2015, it became both a public and private space at once. Visitors were invited to encounter the artist there and to spend time in dialogue with him.
For the former Reifenlager on the ground floor of House 12, we show music-related videos by Heimo Zobernig. In the video 38 (1992), the flutist Birgit Bauer plays one voice of a fugue over the notes A, C, and A (ACH / Alas) under a cardboard box. The title of the video stands for the flutist’s clothing size.
Quasi as a visualized motto of our acoustic exhibition, Isa Genzken’s photograph Ohr (ear, 1980/2004) is installed in the front staircase and still is today.
Ten years ago, the artist Phil Collins invited simple people in Bogotá, Colombia, to sing the album The world won’t listen (El mundo no escuchará) (2004) by The Smiths. He reached out to the shy, the dissatisfied, and to those who actually want to be someone else. On the first floor in the hallway, we showed the posters that he used to look for singers.
In the adjoining Kantine (canteen), it is possible to see a video installation by Edgar Arceneaux. An arrangement without tormentors (2003–2004) is a black-and-white double projection of two performances of the composition I want to dance by the American conceptual artist Charles Gaines, who was also one of Arceneaux’s teachers at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). In the left projection, Gaines himself is performing during an exhibition opening in Los Angeles. On the right side, the Dutch pianist Nora Mulder performs the same piece in Rotterdam.
In the Kulturraum on the second floor of House 12, Ari Benjamin Meyers installed the work The new empirical (840 Hz) (2013). The starting point for this work is the piano piece Vexations by Erik Satie. Meyers manipulated a modified grand piano from 1893 in such a way that it only plays one note, namely a-flat major (840 Hz). It is also the only note that does not appear in the main theme of Satie’s piece. The work Vexations 2 (2013) consists of 840 copies that Meyers wrote by hand, produced from memory, of Satie’s one-page composition.
In the rear staircase of the building, it’s possible to hear Jonathan Monk’s work My mother cleaning my father’s piano (2001) from offstage. The title unpretentiously describes exactly what can be heard and what monk recorded. Meanwhile, hammering in the arches of the former Weinkeller (wine cellar) is Martin Creed’s sound piece Work No. 122: All the sounds on a drum machine (1995–2000). A machine normally providing rhythm now stoically busies itself in a rather inhospitable environment.
List of works
An arrangement without tormentors, 2003–2004
El Karaoke de Los Smiths (El mundo no escuchará), 2004
El Karaoke de Los Smiths (Hang the DJ), 2004
El Karaoke de Los Smiths (Pero no ovides las canciones), 2004
Work no. 1558, 2013
Work no. 1370: Chicago, 2012
Work no. 122: All the sounds on a drum machine, 1995–2000
One to one #2, 2015
Selber Künstler #1, 2015
Two movements for prepared Cello, 2010
The Goldberg Variation, Aria, BMV 988, 1741, Johann Sebastian Bach (Glenn Gould, 1981) sheet music, 2007
the Goldberg Variation, Aria, BMV 988, 1741, Johann Sebastian Bach (Glenn Gould, 1981) performance, 2007
Record without sleeve, 1985
Helmut Mark & Heimo Zobernig
Ari Benjamin Meyers
The new empirical (840hz), 2013
courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin
Ari Benjamin Meyers
Vexations 2, 2013
courtesy Esther Schipper, Berlin
My mother cleaning my father’s piano, 2001
A structural analysis and reconstruction of Arnold Schoenberg: The complete music for solo piano, Glenn Gould, as determined by the difference between the measurements of duration and displacement, 1980
Europe (National anthems of the 27 states of the European community played simultaneously and continuously), 2009
eS C H EIS Es, 1993