Allora & Calzadilla, Compass, 2009, Wooden drop ceiling, dimensions variable, Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin, © Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin/Allora & Calzadilla.

Sounds and Vibrations from Allora and Calzadilla's Invisible Dancer

Kurimanzutto
Gob. Rafael Rebollar 94
+ (5255) 5256 2408
San Miguel Chapultepec
Mexico City
Allora and Calzadilla, Compass
November 23, 2010-February 5, 2011

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla present Compass 2009, a sculptural intervention that creates a new spatial and acoustic experience. Dividing the exhibition space horizontally, a new physical level, inaccessible to the viewer, reduces the room to less than half its normal height. In the vast space above an "a capella" dancer performs a choreography, the movement of which is transmitted to the audience below in the form of sound and vibration. "Viewers" cannot see but only hear or feel the sonic trace of the composition that unfolds above their heads. The empty exhibition space turns into a resonating chamber — manifesting the etymological origins of the work's title: (Latin, com [together] and passus [step]). Mapping a space between music and drawing, the performer moves across the invisible stage, speaking a metrical language, a rhythmic and poetic means of communication with the public below.

Allora and Calzadilla are known for their complex artistic vocabulary utilizing film, installations, performances, and sculpture, their artistic practice engages with history and contemporary geo-political realities, exposing their complicated dynamics, destabilizing and re-ordering them in ways that can be alternately poetic, humorous, and revelatory.

 

"The performer is like a specter that moves through this flat horizontal stretch and whose sonic traces become a type of metrical language — a rhythmic and poetic means of communication with the public below."

— Allora & Calzadilla

Jennifer Allora (*1974 in Philadelphia/USA) and Guillermo Calzadilla (*1971 in Havana/Cuba) live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Their installations and performances have been on view in large solo exhibitions, among others, Haus Esters, Krefeld Germany (2009); Haus der Kunst / Kunstverein, München (2008); Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (2008); The Renaissance Society, University of Chicago (2007); Serpentine Gallery, London (2007); Kunsthalle Zürich (2007); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006); S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent (2006) and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2004).

They have also participated in important group exhibitions including Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, Barbican, London (2008); Greenwashing, Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin (2008); 7th Gwangju Biennial (2008); After Nature, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City (2008); 16th Biennial of Sydney (2008); Lyon Biennial of Contemporary Art (2007); Istanbul Biennial (2007); All About Laughter, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2007); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2006); Beyond the Museum, Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin (2006) and 51st Venice Biennial (2005).

Allora & Calzadilla, Compass, 2009, Wooden drop ceiling, dimensions variable, Photo: Jens Ziehe, Berlin, © Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin/Allora & Calzadilla.

 

Allora & Calzadilla, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano. 2008, Prepared Bechstein Piano, Pianist (Amir Khosrowpour, depicted in Photo), 81” Long, ©Allora & Calzadilla, Gladstone Gallery, New York, Photo: David Regen.

Allora & Calzadilla's Moving Performances of Ode to Joy

MoMA
11 West 53 Street
212-708-9400
New York
Donald B. and Catherine C. Marron Atrium, second floor
Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla
December 8, 2010–January 10, 2011

The Museum of Modern Art’s Performance Exhibition Series continues with Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla, which presents Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008) for performances throughout the day, from December 8, 2010, through January 10, 2011. The piece, acquired by MoMA in 2009 and publicly performed in the Museum for the first time, was created by artist duo Jennifer Allora (b. 1974) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971), who have been named the United States representatives for the 2011 Venice Biennale. Blending sculpture and performance, the artists have carved a hole in the center of an early 20th-century Bechstein piano, creating a void in which the performer stands to play the Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, usually referred to as Ode to Joy. For each 30-minute performance, the pianist leans over the piano’s keyboard, playing upside down and backwards, while moving the instrument around the Atrium. These performances take place hourly beginning at 11:30 a.m. each day. Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla is organized by Klaus Biesenbach, Director, MoMA PS1, and Chief Curator at Large, MoMA, with Jenny Schlenzka, Assistant Curator for Performance, Department of Media and Performance Art, MoMA.

 

Allora & Calzadilla, who since 1995 have developed a complex artistic vocabulary utilizing films, installations, performances, and sculpture, consciously chose Ode to Joy in accordance with their general interest in the social, political, and cultural instrumentalization of music. The popular melody has long been invoked as the musical representation of humanist values and national pride, having been used in such ideologically disparate contexts as the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Ian Smith’s white supremacist Rhodesia, the Third Reich, and, more recently, as the official anthem of the European Union. Allora and Calzadilla’s altered version brings the composition’s deep contradictions and ambiguities to the surface.

Throughout the monthlong exhibition the work will be performed by the following pianists: Terezija Cukrov, Mia Elezovic, Amir Khosrowpour, Evan Shinners, and Sun Jun. A weekly schedule will be made available online at MoMA.org beginning December 8.

Allora & Calzadilla, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano. 2008, Prepared Bechstein Piano, Pianist (Mia Elezovic, depicted in Photo), 81” Long, ©Allora & Calzadilla, Gladstone Gallery, New York, Photo: David Regen.

Allora & Calzadilla, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, 2008, Foto: Marino Solokhov.

Allora & Calzadilla, The prepared grand piano for Variations on Ode to Joy, 2008, Foto: Friederike Seifert.

The European Union's Official Hymn with a Turkish Martial Twist

Allora & Calzadilla, The prepared grand piano for Variations on Ode to Joy, 2008, Foto: Friederike Seifert.

Allora & Calzadilla, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, 2008, Foto: Marino Solokhov.

 

Haus der kunst
Prinzregentenstrasse 1
+ 49 89 21127-115
Munich
Allora & Calzadilla
Stop, Repair, Prepare:
Variations on
Ode to Joy
for a Prepared Piano
June 13-September 14, 2008

Jennifer Allora (b. 1974 in Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971 in Havana, Cuba) have worked together since 1995. In 2005 they were represented at the Venice Biennale with their work, Hope Hippo, in which a person sat reading a newspaper on top of a hippopotamus made of mud taken from the Canal Grande. Every time this seemingly relaxed newspaper reader learned of a new injustice, he or she blew a whistle, thus becoming a "whistleblower", who literally squealed on the perpetrator. The combination of sculptural elements and performances with sounds or music are characteristic for Allora & Calzadilla's recent work. Their new piece, created especially for the Haus der Kunst, has not only a political, but also a militarily charged emphasis.

Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano is a sculpture-like object that exists only in the context of performances. The famous final chorus in the fourth movement of Ludwig van Beethoven's 9th Symphony is one of the best known pieces of western classical music and performed worldwide. Beethoven's musical transformation of universal fraternisation, "an icon of humanist platitudes" (Allora & Calzadilla), was voted the European Union's official hymn in 1985. The piece was also held in high respect by Nazis; in 1942 it was played for Hitler's birthday. Allora & Calzadilla's interest in the music is directed at its internal contradictions and instrumentalisation for social, political and cultural purposes, as well as the use and abuse of music in general. For this reason the artists have chosen to present their work in the Haus der Kunst's Middle Hall, where Hitler held his speeches on art and cultural politics.

The last movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony intrigues the artists because of its Middle Eastern origins; in the middle segment, the melody of a "Marcia Alla Turca" bursts forth in a persistent rhythmical cadence that sounds like the marching beat of soldiers: left … left … left, right, left. The lively beat and the unusual instrumentation (bass drums, triangle, cymbals) in the "Turkish style" was popular with composers, who found inspiration in the marching janissary military band of the Ottoman Empire that went to war against European armies. "Turkish" music was so popular at the turn of the 19th century that piano manufacturers made pianos with a "Turkish stop", also known as a military or janissary stop. The musician would step on a pedal that then rang a bell and/or caused a padded hammer to hit the sound box, imitating a bass drum.

Allora & Calzadilla's work Stop, Repair, Prepare engages the musical tradition of composing for a prepared piano. In order to prepare a piano, different objects are usually fixed to the strings or hammers and/or the dampers so that the sound is altered. For Allora & Calzadilla's sculptural version of a prepared piano, a hole was cut into the middle of a grand piano to make room for the pianist who plays the instrument from within. Moving the grand piano through the Middle Hall, he or she marches forward playing variations on Ode to Joy. Literally mobilising this famous melody, the performance sets into motion a monstrous sonic journey from modernity's beginning towards an uncertain horizon, where the emblem of European brotherhood resides; a brotherhood to which, strangely enough, Turkey's status within this universal embrace remains uncertain.

Slavoj Zizek recently pointed out the current political implications: "The stanza of Friedrich Schiller's poem that is set to the music in Ode to Joy, coming on the heels of a chorus that invites the world's 'millions' to 'be embraced,' ominously ends: 'But he who cannot rejoice, let him steal weeping away. / Und wer's nie gekonnt, der stehle weinend sich aus diesem Bund./' So, should Turkey be allowed into the Union or should it be let to 'steal itself weeping out of the union /Bund/'? Can Europe survive the 'Turkish march'?" (January 3, 2008, Die ZEIT).

In addition to the show at Haus der Kunst, Kunstverein Munchen presents Clamor, Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech), and Wake Up — with continuous performances June 13-July 13, 2008; these works have never been presented together. This artist duo's Germany appearance is comprised of a quartet of works and comes closest to realising their wish for a performative presentation.

Allora & Calzadilla are presently DAAD scholarship holders in Berlin. In addition to their earlier participation in group shows, such as Common Wealth (Tate Modern, 2003) and Istanbul Biennal 2007, they had solo shows at Serpentine Gallery in London, Kunsthalle Zurich and San Francisco Art Institute in the last year.

Allora & Calzadilla, Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, 2008, Foto: Marino Solokhov.

Allora & Calzadilla, Drawing of the prepared grand piano, 2007, © Allora & Calzadilla.

Allora & Calzadilla, Returning a Sound, 2004. Single Channel Video with Sound, 5' 42", Photo: Allora & Calzadilla. Courtesy Lisson Gallery.

Allora & Calzadilla, Art and Humor with a Sociopolitical Dimension

Allora & Calzadilla, bewerkte nieuwsfoto van een soldaat die een grote luidspreker richt op de ambassade van het Vaticaan in Panama. Generaal Noriega heeft daar zijn toevlucht gezocht tijdens de Amerikaanse invasie “Operation Just Cause”, december 1989 / januari 1990. Uit de speakers klonk dag en nacht Welcome to the Jungle van Guns n’ Roses, We’re not Gonna Take it van Twisted Sister en andere Amerikaanse rock muziek als een vorm van psychologische oorlogsvoering.

Allora & Calzadilla, Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech), 2007, Live performance and pre-recorded sound-track, Courtesy Lisson Gallery, London.

 

Stedelijk Museum
2nd and 3rd floor
Post CS-building
+ 31(0)20 5732.911
Amsterdam
Allora & Calzadilla
February 8-May 4, 2008

The work of artist duo Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, US) and Guillermo Calzadilla
(b. 1971, Cuba) embraces elements of play and humour as well as a critical dimension. Their sculptures, photography, performances and films borrow from a wide range of cultures and contexts and refer to current socio-political and cultural issues. The two artists live in Puerto Rico, an island that is a territory of the United States but has a hybrid Caribbean culture and a colonial legacy.

The exhibition provides an opportunity to see (and hear) recent installations and videos on the theme of music and the social and political significance of the uses to which music and sometimes the human voice are put. The central work is a monumental installation entitled Wake Up (2007): a sound and light sculpture composed of white walls diffusing the music of ten famous trumpet-players performing their own individual interpretations of "Reveille." In many countries this is the tune used by the military to mark the start of the day and the moment at which the national flag is hoisted. The trumpet-players interpret the tune in a subversive way, subtly alienating it from its original militaristic context. The sound is linked to the lighting creating a visual/auditory experience of space.

The genesis of Wake Up lies in a video called Returning a Sound (2003). This is composed of footage shot in Vieques, Puerto Rico: an island used for 60 years as a US military and NATO practice bombing range. Allora and Calzadilla spent a great deal of time on the island and became actively involved in the local civil disobedience movement. In 2002, this was successful in obtaining an end to military exercises and the departure of US troops from the island. Returning a Sound refers to that event. The video shows the landscape of Vieques via the figure of activist Homar, who rides about the island on a moped with a trumpet attached to the exhaust. This turns the moped into an instrument – a combined air alarm, ambulance and serenade to freedom.

Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech) (2007) is a two-part sculpture that looks like a ruin or a geological find. Ensconced within it are singers who perform in operatic style fragments of speeches by key figures in political history: from Martin Luther King and the Dalai Lama to George Bush and Saddam Hussein. The speeches are so well-known and were used to such effect that the present seems to be more or less moulded out of such political rhetoric of the past. The texts are presented as a cacophony of voices of patriots and sceptics, radicals and conservatives, polemicists and campaign leaders.

A brand-new exhibit receiving its first ever European showing at the Stedelijk Museum CS is a series of monumental, black-and-white woodblock prints measuring 3 metres by 4. These depict recreational activities in wartime and are based on photographs downloaded by the artists from the Internet. They include, for example, a sinister image of a group of American soldiers celebrating Halloween by playing polo on donkeys in the Iraqi desert.

The exhibition was put together by Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, curator at the Stedelijk Museum.

Allora and Calzadilla have worked together since 1995. In recent years they have won a prominent place in the international art world. In 2007 they received the Only Lyon Prize at the Lyon Biennial and in 2006 were finalists for the Hugo Boss Prize, overseen by Guggenheim Museum.

Allora & Calzadilla, Unrealizable Goals (Video still), 2007. Single channel video projection with sound, 6' 22", Dimensions variable. Photograph Allora & Calzadilla. Courtesy Lisson Gallery, London Photo: Allora & Calzadilla. Courtesy Lisson Gallery, London.

Allora & Calzadilla, Clamor, Installation view.

A Münich Singalong with Allora & Calzadilla's Apocalyptic Medley

Allora & Calzadilla, Clamor, 2006. Mixed Media and live performance. Dimensions variable. © The Artists & Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo.

Allora & Calzadilla, Clamor, 2006. Mixed Media and live performance. Dimensions variable. © The Artists & Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo.

Allora & Calzadilla, Clamor, 2006. Mixed Media and live performance. Dimensions variable. © The Artists & Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo.

Allora & Calzadilla, Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech), 2007. Mixed media and live performance. Dimensions variable. © The Artists & Franco Soffitiano Arte Contemporanea, Turin.

 

Kunstverein München
Galeriestraße 4
+ 49-(0)89-221 152
München
Allora & Calzadilla; Wake Up, Clamor,
Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech)

June 13-July13, 2008

Kunstverein München, in collaboration with Haus der Kunst, is pleased to present the artist duo Jennifer Allora (b. 1974 Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971 Havanna, Cuba) with the exhibition Allora & Calzadilla; Wake Up, Clamor, Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech).

Parallel to this exhibition Haus der Kunst shows a new work by the artists June 13-September 14 Allora & Calzadilla; Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano.

At centre of this cycle of works, which were created over the last two years, is the critical examination of music’s appropriation within the historical as well as contemporary context of warfare.

Clamor (2006) oscillates between world war bunkers and Casper David Friedrich’s mountainous landscapes. For this space-filling sculpture Allora & Calzadilla brought together several hundred of pieces of music — the result is an apocalyptic medley, which five members of a brass band play live from within the sculpture.

This medley combines classical military music, folk songs, as well as pop and rock from different eras and geographical regions; amongst them are the October revolution, Irving Berlin’s God Bless America, The March of Liberation by Hung Lung from Vietnam 1968, the song The Four Generals from the Spanish civil war, AC/DC’s

Shoot to Trill, which was played by the US troops during the siege of Fallujah in 2004, Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA and Twisted Sister’s We're not Gonna Take It, which was used for torture in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

For the work Wake Up (2007), the artists asked ten leading trumpet players from around the world — among them Franz Hautzinger, Natsuki Tamura, Brigit Ulher and Mazen Kerbaj — to reinterpret the Reveille, the military wake-up call, which signals soldiers to assemble at the start of the military day. The result is a highly experimental sonic re-working of this petrified document of music history, re-invigorated with new associations and meanings that push the original melody beyond it’s militaristic origins.

Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech) (2007) is a gigantic sculpture, which is reminiscent of an apocalyptic setting after an untold disaster. From the inside, fragments of political speeches from Saddam Hussein, the Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King and George W. Bush among others are being sung live by eight opera singers throughout the whole of the exhibition’s duration at the Kunstverein München.

In his book The Political Economy of Music, Jacques Attali criticises the idea that power has an exclusive relationship to the visual. On the contrary, for him, music has the potential to initiate an evolution of social organisation. According to Attali, music is able to produce a network of physical relationships that far exceeds the possibilities of mere political power or economy.

In their works Allora & Calzadilla isolate war songs from social and military contexts; the brass band inside the bunker links music and enforcement, a "sonic-militarism," audible or rather visible — what today is considered to be standard in a state of global war Allora & Calzadilla turn upside down.

This cycle, consisting of Clamor 2006, Sediments Sentiments (Figures of Speech) 2007 and Wake Up 2006, is shown in its entirety at Kunstverein München for the first time worldwide and as a live performance throughout. This combines not only the artists’ first appearance in Germany with a new work completing the quartet at Haus der Kunst, but also comes closest to the artists’ wish for a performative presentation.

Over the last years, Allora & Calzadilla took part in exhibitions at Tate Modern, London, 2003; 51st Venice Biennial, Palais de Tokio, Paris, 2005; Hugo Boss Prize at the Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2006; Whitney biennial 2006, Lyon Biennial, 2007; Istanbul Biennial, 2007. They have had solo exhibitions at SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst Ghent, 2006, The Renaissance Society, Chicago, 2007; Serpentine Gallery, London, 2007; Kunsthalle Zürich, 2007, the San Francisco Art Institute, 2007, Whitechapel Gallery 2007, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 2008.

Allora & Calzadilla, Clamor, 2006. (Detail) Mixed Media and live performance. Dimensions variable. © The Artists & Astrup Fearnley Museum, Oslo.

Allora & Calzadilla, Sediments Sentiments (Figures-of-Speach), Installation view, San Francisco Art Institute, 2007.