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Deserting the Site - Marfa Sounding May 24-29

 

Walter de Maria, Line in Tula, 1969

As part of the project Deserting the Siteles Beaux-Arts de Nantes Metropole (France) and the School of Art at the University of Houston (TX) have conceived and organized Marfa Sounding, a series of site-specific performances, sound installations, and conversations in the wider context of Fieldwork: Marfa, with the support of the Cultural Service of the French Embassy in Houston. Curated by Jennifer Burris-Staton, resident at Fieldwork: Marfa in 2015 and co-produced by Marfa Live Arts, this program explores the intersection of music and the visual arts in the development of minimalism.

A community of two thousand situated amidst the desert plains of west Texas, Marfa is best known as a site for the permanent installation of large-scale artworks. Hosted by Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa between May 24 and 29, iconic composer Alvin Lucier and renowned cellist Charles Curtiswill occupy multiple sites throughout the town and its surrounding desert. Expanding on the parallels between process-based music and serial structures in art, these durational performances seek a musical sounding – a process of measurement – of the artistic mythologies, histories, and temporalities of Marfa.

Emerging from Jennifer Burris-Staton’s curatorial residency with Fieldwork: Marfa in 2015, this series of performances and temporary installations is inspired by the triangular formation of Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room (1969). Sound recordings, developed with fellow Fieldwork: Marfa resident Erik DeLuca, give equal importance to interviews with participants and audience members, the musical occupation of each site, and the soundscapes of the concert architectures. Award-winning photojournalist Amanda Lucier will document all events.

May 24 – 10am-12pm | 101 East Dallas Street, Marfa

- Marfa Sounding, a seminar presented by Jennifer Burris-Staton

Detailing how early electronic music’s use of drone frequencies and repetitive speech modules evokes the mechanistic or objective sculpture of artists like Donald Judd, Edward Strickland’s Minimalism: Origins (1993) coalesces the two via a shared focus on site-specificity and architectural context. He writes: “In Alvier Lucier’s Minimal process-piece I am sitting in a room, the featured performer is not the ‘I’ but the ‘room.’ After speaking/stammering his brief statement, Lucier himself performs no more. He remains only in the form of his taped voice, replayed and re-recorded until it loses its distinctive individuality, swallowed up by the room, surviving in a ghostly existence within its resonant frequencies."

This talk outlines the theoretical and art historical framework behind Marfa Sounding engaging these parallels between process-based music and serial structures in art. Focused on the manipulation and disruption of time in relation to architectural space and environment - from extended duration to the unpredictable frequencies of wind - the series situates this embodied exploration in the small Texas town of Marfa. Following this introduction, Jennifer Burris Staton will focus on the program’s final performance: a new site‐specific work written by Lucier for Curtis (and wind) and performed at an open‐air concrete amphitheater located in preserved ranch land outside of town.

May 26 – 10pm-Dawn | Fieldwork: Marfa land at Antelope Hill

- Performance of Alvin Lucier’s Sferics

May 27 – 7pm | Chinati Foundation - John Chamberlain Building, 1 Cavalry Row, Marfa, TX 79843

- Performance of works by Eliane Radigue

May 28 – 2pm | Marfa Book Company, 105 S Highland Ave, Marfa, TX 79843

- Conversation with Charles Curtis, Alvin Lucier, Abinadi Meza, and Ida Soulard

May 28 – 7pm | Crowley Theater, S 79843, 104 S Austin St, Marfa, TX 79843

- Performance of I am sitting in a room and other electronic works by Alvin Lucier

May 29 – 5pm | Mimms Unit

- Premiere of new site-specific work for Charles Curtiscomposed by Alvin Lucier


For more information on the project Deserting the Site, click here.

The full program and biographies are available at www.desertunit.org.

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