The Present Moment

Anri Sala
October 18, 2014 – September 20, 2015

The Present Moment, 2014

 

The entrance with loudspeakers suspended form the ceiling creating a sound course from modulations of a score based on Arnold Schoenberg’s work Transfigured Night. As the spectator traverses the hall, additional tracks become audible.

 

Photo © Jens Weber

The Present Moment, 2014 

 

Film still © Anri Sala

The Present Moment, 2014 

 

Film still © Anri Sala

The Present Moment, 2014 

 

Film still © Anri Sala

The Present Moment, 2014 

 

Film still © Anri Sala

The Present Moment, 2014

 

The semi-circular arrangement of the loudspeakers echoes the seating of the chamber orchestra in the film.

 

Photo © Jens Weber

The Present Moment, 2014

 

The semi-circular arrangement of the loudspeakers echoes the seating of the chamber orchestra in the film.

 

Photo © Jens Weber

The Present Moment, 2014

 

The entrance with loudspeakers suspended form the ceiling creating a sound course from modulations of a score based on Arnold Schoenberg’s work Transfigured Night. As the spectator traverses the hall, additional tracks become audible.

 

Photo © Jens Weber

The Present Moment

Anri Sala
Haus der Kunst, Munich
October 18, 2014 – September 20, 2015
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The commission Der Öffentlichkeit—Von den Freunden Haus der Kunst addresses a generation of artists who have developed a clear and challenging line of artistic inquiry. The annual commission is grounded in the idea of the central role that art and artists play in global debates. With this, Haus der Kunst wishes to acknowledge international artists who, over the course of their careers, exemplify and have demonstrated models of artistic excellence, conceptual rigor, experimental spirit, and whose ideas have had enduring impact in the field of contemporary art and its discourses. For the third edition of Der Öffentlichkeit—Von den Freunden Haus der Kunst Anri Sala (born in 1974 in Tirana, Albania) has proposed a multichannel sound and video installation. With this work, he intensifies his exploration of the relationship between architecture and sound.

 

The Middle Hall in Haus der Kunst, where the commissioned work will be exhibited, is approximately 800 square meters in size; its floor and door frames are red marble and its ceiling almost 12 meters high. For this monumental space, Sala has chosen—in productive contrast—an intimate format: The late romantic chamber music piece “Transfigured Night” by Arnold Schoenberg in its original string sextet version (Op. 4, composed in 1899) marks the starting point of his installation.

 

The Present Moment unfolds as the visitors pass through the doors into the hall. At the very beginning, a recording of a chamber music ensemble performing the original Schoenberg score is audible. This recording is supplemented by additional tracks, based on modulations of the score, as one progresses through the space. The tones of Transfigured Night wander across the hall, making their way toward the back. Upon their arrival at the end of the space, the sounds accumulate in constant repetition, as if “trapped in a cul-de-sac.”

 

Marking the end of the installation, a film is projected behind the row of columns. It shows a group of six musicians playing in a semicircle. The camera does not penetrate into their sphere, but gently brushes up against it. The soundtrack of the film assembles all the D-notes in Transfigured Night. Each musician plays a D-note repetitively, until it is replaced by the successive D-note in the original score. The shots are dominated by close-ups of elbows, forearms, and wrists, and highlight the physical effort involved in the act of playing music. Anri Sala conceptualizes this “chain production of notes” in reference to industrial models of the early 20th century: “It’s about a piece of chamber music that advances in space, generating sounds and prompting actions that were to happen only later in history such as the division of labor and its ensuing choreography of body movements.”

 

With The Present Moment, Sala takes his exploration of the interaction between sound and space, as most recently shown in the French Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013, one step further. Through the greatest possible forgoing of materiality the artist explores a fundamental question, i.e. the notion of the present moment in an art form that is fleeting and ephemeral. Following the choreography of the installation, the visitor is invited to experience the piece from different standpoints. What does it mean to think of the “now” in music? Can sound enable an experience of the present?

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