Purchase Not By Moonlight

Anri Sala
December 3, 2008 – March 1, 2009

Answer Me, 2008 (right)

HD video, stereo sound

Duration 04:51 min

Filmed in a former surveillance station in West Berlin, the work narrates a woman’s attempt to communicate with her partner whose drumming drowns out her words, except for her recurring plea: “answer me.”

 

Doldrums, 2008 (on the floor)

Altered Brady snare drums, loudspeaker parts, snare stands, drumsticks

Self-playing snare drums were dispersed through the galleries, drumming to the rhythms of the films' respective soundtracks.

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Doldrums, 2008 (on the floor)

Altered Brady snare drums, loudspeaker parts, snare stands, drumsticks

Self-playing snare drums were dispersed through the galleries, drumming to the rhythms of the films' respective soundtracks.

 

After Three Minutes, 2007 (background; left and center)

Two-channel video installation

 

time after time, 2003 (background; right)

Single-channel video and stereo sound

Duration 05:26 min 

In this work, Sala’s camera documents a solitary horse trapped in the middle of a highway, next to a median strip. The lights of a fast-moving car briefly expose the horse’s famished state, then all is dark again, an action that is repeated several times.

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Doldrums, 2008 (on the floor)

Altered Brady snare drums, loudspeaker parts, snare stands, drumsticks

Self-playing snare drums were dispersed through the galleries, drumming to the rhythms of the films' respective soundtracks.

 

After Three Minutes, 2007 (left; background)

Two-channel video installation

 

time after time, 2003 (right; foreground)

Single-channel video and stereo sound

Duration 05:26 min

In this work, Sala’s camera documents a solitary horse trapped in the middle of a highway, next to a median strip. The lights of a fast-moving car briefly expose the horse’s famished state, then all is dark again, an action that is repeated several times.

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Doldrums, 2008 (on the floor)

Altered Brady snare drums, loudspeaker parts, snare stands, drumsticks

Self-playing snare drums were dispersed through the galleries, drumming to the rhythms of the films' respective soundtracks.

 

After Three Minutes, 2007 (background; left and center)

Two-channel video installation

 

time after time, 2003 (background; right)

Single-channel video and stereo sound

Duration 05:26 min

In this work, Sala’s camera documents a solitary horse trapped in the middle of a highway, next to a median strip. The lights of a fast-moving car briefly expose the horse’s famished state, then all is dark again, an action that is repeated several times.

 

No Barragan No Cry, 2002 (foreground)

Color photograph

This photograph was inspired by a sculpture in Mexican architect Luis Barragan’s garden – a response to his creative vision and its physical surroundings. / Susanne Van Der Lingen

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

No Barragan No Cry, 2002 (left)

Color photograph

This photograph was inspired by a sculpture in Mexican architect Luis Barragan’s garden – a response to his creative vision and its physical surroundings. / Susanne Van Der Lingen

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Exhibition view

Purchase Not By Moonlight, 2008–09

Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Untitled (corner), 2004 (detail)

Eight black-and-white photographs on baryta-coated paper

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Title Suspended (Purple), 2008

Resin, nitrile rubber, electric motor

Sala references one of the most important works of art history: The Creation of Adam, one of Michelangelo’s central frescos. The fingers in the hands gradually fill out until they emulate Michelangelo’s figure perfectly. Yet in the very moment when the representation achieves absolute beauty, the gloved fingers collapse. 

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

A Spurious Emission, 2007

Video projection (color, stereo)
Duration 07:30 min

The work shows a room with several musicians. An additional figure, initially invisible, appears. The fine, white outline of a person playing a set of drums fazes in and out as a somewhat ghostly presence. Such spurious emissions generally are considered unintentional byproducts, defined as any radio frequency not deliberately created or transmitted.

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Long Sorrow, 2005

HD video transferred from super 16 mm color film, stereo sound

The work is a succession of tinted situations. Its protagonist is the free jazz saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc. In the film, the musician’s improvisations build a cathedral of sound, imbued with a sense of mounting tension.

  

Photo © Steven Brooke

Làk-kat, 2004

Single-channel video and stereo sound

Duration 09:38 min

The haunting and subtle work Làk-kat (meaning “gibberish” or “outlandish”) investigates the dynamics of language, history and memory. 

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Làk-kat, 2004 (on the wall)

Single-channel video and stereo sound

Duration 09:38 min

The haunting and subtle work Làk-kat (meaning “gibberish” or “outlandish”) investigates the dynamics of language, history and memory. 

 

Doldrums, 2008 (right; on the floor)

Altered Brady snare drums, loudspeaker parts, snare stands, drumsticks

Self-playing snare drums were dispersed through the galleries, drumming to the rhythms of the films' respective soundtracks.

 

Photo © Steven Brooke

Purchase Not By Moonlight

Anri Sala
Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami
December 3, 2008 – March 1, 2009
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Debuting during Art Basel 2009, the Museum of Contemporary Art Miami brings to the United States the first major museum showing for Albanian multi-media artist, Anri Sala. Known primarily for his video pieces invoking the communicative properties inherent in light and sound, the exhibition Purchase Not By Moonlight presents a multi-faceted collection of recent work. Curated in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Center Cincinnati, the site-specific exhibition creates an environment that asks viewers to participate actively with the works, as Sala creates a sort of call-and-response with visitors. The artist stresses that he has attempted to use the space given not as a background onto which the video work is thrust, but rather as a tool with which his pieces respond to capture the attention of viewers. Sala’s video pieces take center stage, arranged at odd angles to each other and presented on what seemed to be a random timer; the seven videos beckon the viewer to move around the exhibition non-linearly, jumping from one area to the next as projectors come to life. Accompanying each video piece is Doldrums; crafted specifically for this exhibition, this work consists of a line of drums which magically drum to the rhythm of the film’s respective soundtracks. Doldrums represents an echoing of the themes present in each of the films, as Sala’s interest in sound as a powerful communicator is explored in diverse ways throughout the seven films, including the artist’s most recent piece Answer Me. The short film invites us to peek into a conversation between two presumptive lovers as one’s questions are drowned out, or perhaps answered, by the drumming of the other. Another highlight of the exhibition was the two corresponding videos Spurious Transmission and Air Cushioned Ride; one video documents the drive around a truck stop, as the radio jumps back and forth between baroque music and country music twang, while the second video recreates the audio portion of the first video using live musicians.

 

Although the artist does make it clear that dedicating time to the exhibit is important to fully understanding the piece, the random timing of the video presentations can at times become troublesome, as corresponding videos may not play sequentially, and there can be long time gaps between their showings. What Purchase Not By Moonlight succeeds in most fully is taking viewers by the hand and projecting them through an exploration of sound and video. Sala has used the unique space provided to create a responsive and interactive world directed by his videos.

 

Bryan Barcena

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