Today, we take you to the 57th Venice Art Biennale in Italy, to share our encounters during preview days of the international art exhibition. These field recordings from May 2017 feature the voices and sounds of biennial curators, artists, projects, performances, installations and events.
From Cathy’s notes:
This year, the French Pavilion is a sound space. At the opening event, after the speeches and applause for artist Xavier Veilhan and curators Christian Marclay and Lionel Bovier, I follow the crowd to experience a performance by two young artists coming from l’Academie de l’Opera de Paris.—the Paris opera academy. They are among the 100 musicians that Veilhan invited to perform inside the pavilion that he and his team had transformed into Studio Venezia. The modernist design of the pavilion’s interior combines a performance platform and recording studio evoking German artist Kurt Schwitters’s Merzbau.
Inside the French Pavilion, you’ll hear pianist Federico Tibone performing experimental and classical work with vocalist Farrah el Dibany. You’ll also encounter the sounds of My Cat is an Alien, a duo from Torino, Italy, producing experimental media.
The next sounds we share are from the German Pavilion. Though I visited the pavilion, I didn’t get to witness Faust, the riveting goth performance choreographed by artist Anne Imhof. Germany won a Golden Lion for this project! What is described as an epic performance takes place mostly beneath a glass floor that spans the pavilion. The experience is one of witnessing a disturbing human experiment unfold beneath your feet.
Vernissage TV, out of Basel, Switzerland, captured a fraction of one of the daily 5-hour performances in a short video. The German Pavilion shared two excerpts of music composed by Billy Bultheel, one of Imhoff’s long-term collaborators.
We share Egyptian artist Hassan Khan’s outdoor sound art installation: Composition for a Public Park. Khan won the Silver Lion award for a promising young artist at this Biennial. Visitors experience his multi-channel work by walking around and through a small park. You’ll hear two different encounters with this composition—mine and that of Andrew Russeth, an art critic based in New York and co-executive editor of ARTnews. You’ll find more impressions of the Biennale on his 16 Miles of String vimeo page.
Finally, I leave you with the celebratory sounds of American artist Carolee Schneemann accepting the Golden Lion for lifetime achievement! Listen to our Fresh Art International podcast episode with Schneemann to hear a conversation about her life and work.
Sound editor Guney Ozsan | photos courtesy Cathy Byrd and Alfred Bridi | Sound effect credits listed in text above.