Anri Sala

Anri Sala
September 6, 2017 – January 8, 2018
Take Over, 2017
Back-to-back HD video projections, color, 8-channel sound, glass elements
Duration 7:56 min
 
Placed in an otherwise dark space, the angled glass walls reflect part of the projected images, taking on a cinematic quality. In each area created by the glass walls a distinct component of the film’s soundtrack is audible.
 
Film still © the artist

Anri Sala

Anri Sala
Museo Tamayo, Mexico City
September 6, 2017 – January 8, 2018
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A conceptual point of departure for the central work Take Over are two well-known musical works, affiliated by an entangled political and cultural history, the Marseillaise and the Internationale. Written in 1792 the Marseillaise was closely tied to the French Revolution but also quickly spread to other countries where it became a symbol for the overthrow of oppressive regimes. Thus the 1871 lyrics of the Internationale were initially also set to the tune of the Marseillaise, until 1888 when its original music was composed and the song became the standard anthem of the socialist movement. Both anthems have undergone major changes in their political connotations: from revolution, restoration, socialism, resistance and patriotism, to additional associations with colonization and oppression in the second half of the twentieth century (as national anthems of France and the Soviet Union, respectively). Yet to this day their meaning remains in flux, as the two songs continue to be appropriated. Take Over makes audible the close relationship of these two political anthems and mines the musical kinship for traces of this changing symbolic significance.

 

Placed in the otherwise empty room for which it was conceived, Take Over first manifests as a contained architectural structure consisting of a central wall with angled glass panels. The two songs appear doubled in two complementary films. Each projected on one side of the projection wall, the films depict the keyboard of a Disklavier piano, played by a human player and animated by its programming. A variety of actions—rhythmic movements, single strokes, clusters, waves or bursts, transforms the keyboard into an animated landscape in black and white, of valleys and peaks.

 

Around the central screen, the large glass panels create specific acoustic environments in which only specific parts of the soundtrack are audible. In a spatial equivalent of the two choreographies of music and image that structures the two films, these sections further arrange the auditory experience created by the installation.

 

Take Over seamlessly dissolves the boundaries between individual media—the films are sculptural, the glass walls cinematic and the oscillating sounds appear to mold the space. Moreover, sound literally determines the film, whose changing focus is tied to musical tones and the movement of the keys producing them—even if the underlying system remains elusive.

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