Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Photo: Lotte Stekelenburg.

John Cage Collaborates Posthumously on His Centenary in Sarkis' Ballads

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Sarkis portrait, 2012, Photo: Tot en met ontwerpen.

 

Museum Boijmans van Beuningen
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Submarine Wharf
John Cage at the Submarine Wharf
on his 100th Anniversary

August 9-September 30, 2012

2012 marks the centenary of the birth of the American composer John Cage. Cage is an important source of inspiration for Sarkis, the artist who this summer made an installation for the Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam’s docklands. Cage’s music plays an important role in Sarkis’s exhibition Ballads, which runs until September 30.

The sounds of John Cage (1912-1992) fill the five thousand square metre Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam’s docklands. A 43-bell carillon continuously performs the composition Litany for the Whale at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen’s summer venue. The bell tower, made from 18 tree trunks, is part of the exhibition Ballads by Sarkis (1938). Using large objects, coloured light and Cage’s music, the artist makes a notional link between water and air. Each Sunday the carillon in the exhibition is played live, with a selection of other works by the famous composer.

Cage at the Submarine Wharf John Cage wrote the composition Litany for the whale in 1980 for two singers, who in turn imitate the call of a whale and sing the separate letters of the word ‘whale’. The notes in the piece follow one another at a tranquil tempo. As so often happens in Cage’s compositions, there are many moments of silence in the work, creating the illusion that the sounds are coming from the depths of the sea. Sarkis chose this piece by Cage to connect with the original use of the Submarine Wharf. Submarines were built in the shed in the first half of the 20th century; mechanical beings that look like whales and dive and resurface according to the same principles. Through the medium of Cage’s music, Sarkis takes the visitor on an imaginary trip to the bottom of the sea. To accompany Ballads, Sarkis is showing an installation of watercolours based on Cage’s flute score Ryoanji (1983-85) in Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen.

Musical inspiration Sarkis regularly includes in his work dialogues with other artists such as painters, architects and musicians. His fascination with music is manifest in the exhibition and he delights in sharing his sources of inspiration with visitors. At a table of books and CDs you can listen to jazz ballads by Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Louis Armstrong, as well as music by Cage.

Live music on Sunday Each Sunday carillon players Frank Steijns and Mathieu Polak play the carillon in the exhibition. Music for Carillon II by John Cage is performed here for the first time on bells, as Cage originally intended it. There are also regular concerts at which the carillon is played together with piano. The museum is staging a children’s performance with a puppeteer for the youngest visitors.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Fred Ernst.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Face Me PLS.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Fred Ernst.

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.

 

Sarkis, Ballads, 2012, installation view, Photo: Ernst Moritz.