Sunday, January 16, 2011

Prospect.1.5: Resounding at Jonathan Ferrara


There is a longstanding, if sometimes artificial, separation between visual art and music. This RESOUNDING show, curated by former musician and Prospect Biennial founding director Dan Cameron, explores the hazy frontier where art and music meet. While music is pervasive here, the work is mostly silent though not without resonance. Describing the dramatic silence in the immediate aftermath of a performance, Cameron says, "With the sudden absence, other senses rush to fill the void." That silence, the musical equivalent of the visual artist's "negative space," is eloquently embodied in Rhona Bittner's large color photographs of empty performance spaces. In NEWPORT MUSIC HALL, top, the glow of stage lights is reflected off the contours of a vast baroque ceiling medallion, but in the absence of an audience the silence is deafening--as it is in the gaudy intimacy of RED'S LOUNGE, in Clarksdale, MS, where Robert Johnson's ghost would surely feel at home.

Los Angeles artist Sean Duffy, above left (detail), adds time and technology in the mix, in modified LP album jackets arranged in op art patterns that express nostalgia for the music technologies of the past. Nearby, a vintage DJ turntable with no tone arm stands as a monument to the sounds of silence. Old records also appear in the work of New Yorker Ted Riederer, in an installation of vinyl LPs molded into skulls wearing their labels like skullcaps. Guarded by ST. ANTIPODE, a Darth Vaderish sculpture also molded from old LPs, they evoke the sensibilities of the "death metal" genre. Vancouver artist Tim Lee remixes the 1970s works of Neil Young and Steve Martin in a fictitious, if understated, LP double album, while in the back room a video by Turkish artist Fikret Akay employs the sounds and images of religious students pacing the floor as they chant scripture in what amounts to an ambulatory Tower of Babel. This inverts the approach of the other artists, whose silent objects and images convey the inner music of the visual imagination. ~Bookhardt

RESOUNDING: Prospect.1.5 Group Exhibition of Art about Music, Through January, Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, 400A Julia St., 522-5471;