Answer Me

Anri Sala
February 3 – April 10, 2016

The Present Moment, 2014

Single-channel HD video and nineteen-channel sound installation, color

Duration 21:30 min

 

With this work, Sala takes his exploration of the interaction between sound and space 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?

 

Photo © Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

Ravel Ravel, 2013

Two-channel HD video and 16-channel sound

Duration 20:45 min

 

The work is screened in an anechoic chamber designed to absorb sound. Two different interpretations of Ravel’s Left Hand Concerto for Piano and Orchestra are heard alongside one another. The respective tempos of each performance have been recomposed, so that both executions continuously shift in and out of unison, one evolving slightly more slowly than the other, first creating a slight echo, then a doubling with the notes heard twice, eventually catching up, only to shift away from one another once again.

 

Photo © Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

Làk-kat (British/American), 2013

Two-channel video, stereo sound, color

Duration 09:38 min

 

The haunting and subtle work Làk-kat (meaning “gibberish” or “outlandish”) investigates the dynamics of language, history and memory. It shows two videos alongside each other, each with subtitles in either British English or American English. Towards the middle of the film, the projections briefly fall out of sync, and a shadow appears to ripple from one screen across to the next, as if echoing the slight differences between the English dialects shown in the subtitles. 

 

Photo © Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

Answer Me

Anri Sala
New Museum, New York
February 3 – April 10, 2016
Previous
Next

Highlighting Sala’s continuing interest in how sound and music can engage architecture and history, Answer Me features extensive multichannel audio and video installations that unfold across the Second, Third, and Fourth Floor galleries, composing a symphonic experience specific to the New Museum.

 

In his early video works from the late 1990s, Sala used documentary strategies to examine life after communism in his native Albania, observing the role of language and memory in narrating social and political histories. Since the early 2000s, his video works have probed the psychological effects of acoustic experiences, embracing both music and sound as languages capable of conjuring up images, rousing nostalgia, and communicating emotions. In subtle visual narratives, Sala often depicts what appear to be fragments of everyday life, and his intimate observations experiment with fiction to double as enigmatic portraits of society.

 

Since the mid-2000s, Sala’s works have featured musicians in both films and live performances: In films such as Long Sorrow (2005) and Answer Me (2008), musicians intone requiems for the failed histories dormant in the architecture surrounding them. In Le Clash (2010), and Tlatelolco Clash (2011), organ-grinders stroll deserted streets, amplifying a sense of alienation and uncertainty with their unexpected interpretations of a familiar song. The exhibition also includes a recurring live performance entitled 3-2-1 (2011/16), in which saxophonist André Vida improvises alongside musician Jemeel Moondoc’s recorded lamentation in Long Sorrow, expanding on the dynamics of free jazz in a duet that changes with each recital. Throughout these works, music resounds as both a cathartic release and an incantation that evokes historical chapters that are neither distant nor closed.

 

In recent works, Sala has interpreted musical compositions in multichannel video and sound installations that emphasize the perception of sound in relation to architectural spaces. This exhibition features a new spatialization of Sala’s The Present Moment (in B-flat) (2014) and The Present Moment (in D) (2014), in which he rearranges Arnold Schoenberg’s Verklärte Nacht [Transfigured Night] (1899) to create the sense that individual notes, abstracted from the composition, travel freely throughout the gallery before accumulating and playing in repetition as if trapped in a spatial impasse. The exhibition also includes the US premiere of Sala’s striking installation Ravel Ravel Unravel (2013), first exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, where Sala represented France. In Ravel Ravel (2013), two interpretations of Maurice Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the Left Hand in D-major (1929–30) are projected simultaneously in a semi-anechoic chamber, a space designed to absorb sound. Sala recomposed the tempo of the concerto for each musician so that the two performances progress in and out of sync to produce the perception of musical echoes—a paradoxical experience in a space in which actual echoes are impossible. The dynamics of repetition and reverberation—rhetorical and compositional tropes in Sala’s works—underpin the ideas explored in the exhibition and enrich the historical dialogues embedded throughout the artist’s oeuvre.

Search