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by Deanna Sirlin
The Art Section

Eye or Ear of the Beholder

I am happy to be able to present the 5th incarnation of The Art Section. After the last issue, many thought we had become a vehicle solely for sound art and its critique! However, that is only one dimension and range we desire for this magazine.

In this issue, we have three articles that focus on different aspects of the idea of a personal perspective on art. The personal approach is certainly not fashionable in these globally platformed times, but perhaps that’s all the more reason to address it. I have always wondered why some art appeals more to one individual than another, and the roles played by taste, education, experience, and politics in our aesthetic choices.

Also, in reading art criticism, it is important to know who is doing the writing and from what vantage point.

So, in this issue we have Cinqué Hicks, founder of the online magazine Code Z, writing about the need for a publication whose focus is on “Black Visual Culture Now.” Hicks’s passion and conviction make clear the need for this discourse. Next up to the plate is architect, former portrait painter, and documentary filmmaker George Hornbein who gives us his view on Harry Callahan’s “Eleanor,” an extraordinary exhibition of 150 photographs ranging from the 1940s to the 1980s that opened recently at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. Here, we have Harry Callahan‘s view of his wife, partner, muse, and model and Hornbein’s experience of the visual documentation of that relationship. I cannot help but think Horbein’s reading of this show was shaped by his experience as a portraitist. Moving from the visual side of the brain to the auditory faculty, we have composer Giuseppe Gavazza’s perspective on, and hearing of, the Sandretto Foundation’s “Silence,” curated by Francesco Bonami, known for his conceptually based exhibitions. In the 4th issue, we addressed a tiny tip of the iceberg of sound/art, and five of Gavazza’s works can be heard and seen there. Do go to the Archives if you missed this issue.

As for me, I hope this magazine will continue to be about not just what I like and think, but the intersection and juxtaposition of the many aspects of art at this moment, and how our writers and artists experience and couch these ideas for your perusal.

As an artist, I am always interested in how others perceive my work. Reproduced here is my photograph of photographer Mike Jensen, who has often photographed my work, examining my installation “Retracings” at the High Museum. This is my perspective on his looking at the way I see.

Thank you.

Photographer Mike Jensen looking at my work Retracings in the High Museum of Art, 2005.

Wangechi Mutu, Untitled (from Tumors), 2004. Courtesy: Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

By Laylah Ali. Courtesy: Judy Ann Goldman Gallery.

Code Z, Arts Reporting, and the End of Black Art

by Cinqué Hicks

I have a verbal bomb I like to drop whenever I give lectures to idealistic and passionate college art students, particularly to black audiences: I make sure the room is quiet, let an awkward moment or two go by and then say, "We are living through the end of black art." Pause.

Or something like that.

It is a statement designed for shock value, calculated to offend with some intensity. But it is not merely that; I actually believe it. I'll return to the so-called "end of black art," but first a very long detour.

Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now went live online in the late summer of 2006 and I served as both its founder and editor-in-chief for that first crucial year before retiring to an advisory position and letting someone else have a turn at the wheel. Beginning from nothing, Code Z grew to attract some 8,000 to 10,000 visits per week, not to mention a fair number of critical accolades elsewhere online and in print. Not bad for a website with a promotions budget of exactly $0 and no paid staff.

The site's popularity should surprise no one. Code Z came into a world with a vast information gap: On one hand, the black popular culture magazines and websites served up a steady diet of mass market bling in which art was treated at best as a funky, if somewhat mysterious, lifestyle accessory, while on the other hand the "serious" (read: white) art publications treated black artists and their production only as one buffet item among many, a taste for which any particular publication may or may not have in any given month. None of these publications was poised to examine the current state of black visual art in both a sophisticated and sustained way. And none of them was poised to carry on an ongoing conversation directly and specifically with my generation of black visual creatives as an ongoing mission. Code Z was designed to fill this information gap.

Anyone familiar with the art press will rightly point out that the International Review of African American Art, or Revue Noire, and possibly a small handful of web sites such as Community Action Network provide reliable news and information on black visual culture. What was missing, however, was an outlet that placed a younger generation of artists squarely at the center, both as subject and audience. This was a generation equally influenced by the Black Arts Movement, MTV, jazz and punk rock, by a civil rights history and by the explosive internationalism of the Internet. What we needed was a publication devoted exclusively to all that is risky, visionary, and radically of the moment. From its inception, Code Z's mission has been to chart the territory of black unpopular culture happening right now.

You understand this contested territory the moment you lay eyes on Wangechi Mutu, subject of Code Z's first feature interview. Speaking to culture critic and writer Greg Tate with her electric blue hair extensions and leather pants, Mutu symbolizes the kind of square peg that Code Z attempts to bring out into the light. Speaking of the privilege of her own generation, she says, "I feel like the beauty and benefit of what I'm doing is that I don't have to focus on one particular critique or argument. I don't even have to be critical, as such. I am, but I don't have to be, and that's a really privileged position. Because you get to the point where you don't want to have to address the--poor choice of words--but, the oppressor, as such, every time you make an image."

Or do you?

Wangechi's words encapsulate a shift that has been occurring in black unpopular culture since Thelma Golden's 2001 Studio Museum survey "Freestyle" first blew a hole in the critical reception of black art. Introducing the unfortunate (and ingeniously tenacious) term "post-black," Freestyle made as the object of its investigation the shifting sands of post-post-modernism on which racial identity was being situated (or not) by turns as a central trope, an incidental complicating element, and an utter irrelevancy. Artists such as Layla Ali, Kori Newkirk, and Jerald Ieans who addressed race only obliquely if at all now had a critical home, a context in which their work could be understood as black art and yet could experience some breathing room in which that blackness could make its appearance in otherwise unrecognizable ways.

If "Freestyle" showed how flexible the artistic manifestation of blackness could be, the Studio Museum's 2006 non-follow-up follow-up, "Frequency," showed just how vulnerable that construction was to falling apart completely. "Frequency" was a curatorial conundrum in which, according to the curators, the only unifying factor among the artists on display was that they had all managed to escape any kind of unifying factor. How else to justify a Rodney McMillian readymade salvaged garbage chair and a Robert Pruitt pseudo-anthropological drawing in the same space?

Meanwhile, the Black Panthers celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2007 just as other black artists of a new generation were insisting more strongly than ever on the political and radically racialized content of their work. Thus Theodore Harris, Kara Walker, Carl Pope, and Radcliffe Bailey make unambiguous statements through their work about the troubled history of blackness and its ongoing struggles, albeit to very different effects.

Code Z entered this debate with more questions than answers. It attempts to draw some collective meaning from the fragments left behind by "Frequency"'s explosion, to document a moment in which the meaning of "black art" is an open, living organism, re-birthing itself daily, artist by artist, work by work.

The idea that black unpopular culture is developing its own aesthetics and mores did not, of course, begin with Code Z. James Hannaham's 2002 Village Voice article "The Rise of the Black Nerd" collected disparate cultural actors (Suzan-Lori Parks, Outkast, William Pope.L) who were poking their heads up through the ghetto fabulousness of "keep-it-real" black America under the banner of an ascendant nerd aesthetic that is defined more by what it is not than by what it is. Among the list of nots: monolithic and predictable, but still very much black and very much real.

Code Z embarked on a similar reclamation project. It became for me a way in which artists such as Kori Newkirk and Julie Mehretu who had been lost to the majority white art press could be reinserted into a specifically black context, but in a way that did not reduce their work to mere racial agitprop and that paid attention to all the complex ways in which their work signified internationally.

So what about the "end of black art"? If black art is supposedly ending, then what exactly is Code Z documenting? Art made today is moving toward a condition of greater and greater individual quirkiness and autobiographical specificity, not less. The future looks more like "Frequency" than it does like the Black Arts Movement. As a younger generation of artists moves from margin to center, that world is likely to be filled with a cacophony of divergent and incompatible visions of blackness and ways of signifying it. Anyone using the phrase "black art" as a generic category will have to deploy a cascade of caveats, footnotes, and asterisks to explain exactly what version of it they are referring to. The work will be implicitly hybrid, always hyphenated in some dialogue of gender, class, technique, or medium. By "end" of black art, I really mean "transition" to something that is increasingly multiple and complex, something that the flat and historically-weighted term "black art" will finally prove insufficient to describe.

Code Z walks the razor's edge between the dangers and opportunities of that critical moment. By taking blackness as a baseline quality, Code Z is uniquely free to explore the other side of that hyphen, to complicate what we think we understand as black art and how it operates in the world.

Cinqué Hicks is an artist, writer, curator, and former editor-in-chief of Code Z: Black Visual Culture Now.


Harry Callahan, Eleanor in New York (1945). Courtesy: High Museum of Art, Atlanta.

Harry Callahan

by George Hornbein

A portrait photographer has two options: he can go to the subject and attempt to capture the subject’s essence – trapping their soul and freezing their dance – in the subject’s own environment. Or, he can have the subject come to him and be placed as the photographer wishes and be captured reacting to their new surroundings.

Cartier-Bresson went to the subject and waited for the magic moment, the one hundred twenty-fifth of a second when everything before the lens was right - the soul was trapped, the dance was locked in time. The man leaping across the puddle was completely focused on his task of reaching the dry side.

Annie Leibovitz, on the other hand, whose remarkable show leaves Atlanta’s High Museum even as Harry Callahan’s opens, is a portrait photographer who has the subject “come” to her. Leibovitz stages the tableau and captures her subjects reacting to a setting that is not their own. She has Whoopi Goldberg lie in a bathtub filled with milk and takes her portrait in that highly charged, staged environment. Either approach can yield insight into the subject’s being. Both approaches fix abstract compositions that speak to the viewer.

Harry Callahan was a photographer, like Leibovitz, who brought his subjects to himself. In Callahan’s show at the High, all the work, some one hundred thirty photographs, is of his wife Eleanor, alone or with their daughter Barbara.

The first thing that grabbed me when I walked into the gallery was the incredible strength of the compositions. Callahan loved to shoot subjects with the plane of the background perpendicular to the axis of the camera lens. He also loved symmetry. Eleanor is often placed in the middle of the photograph. In one of a series shot in a single afternoon in New York, she stands a few feet in front of a brick wall. Her cloth coat is buttoned to her neck. Her hair flares out from either side of her face. She looks directly at the camera. Her hair is parted down the middle and, by no accident, the topmost vertical mortar joint that is aligned with the part in her hair is stained darker than any of the other joints.

The second thing that struck me was Eleanor herself. Given the abstract elements of the compositions, mannequins could have been properly arranged and substituted for her. But she is there and her presence is strong. Her trust in her husband, her self confidence, her sense of her own worth as a person, her ease with the role Callahan asked her to play are all evident.

Many of the portraits of Eleanor are nude studies and many of those are studies of form, texture and shades of light where Eleanor’s back is to the camera or her head is out of the frame. In the photographs where Eleanor does face the camera she seems completely uninhibited and just as self-assured as when she is fully clothed.

Barbara, as a toddler, is in some of the photographs. She often breaks the structure that Callahan staged with her mother. Barbara looks away from the camera, reaches for something that intrigued her or in some other way would not be as cooperative a subject as her mother and would make her father come to her and capture an unstaged, magic moment of Barbara’s making. This break from the otherwise highly controlled structure gives these photographs an added spark that Callahan recognized and allowed to be fixed.

One of the exhibit’s few color photographs is a nude study of Eleanor and Barbara, backlit and framed in a gauzed window. Eleanor is looking down at Barbara and holding her hand. Eleanor’s foot is on the windowsill, suggesting that the two of them are about to step through the window into another world. The composition, the play of light, the arrangement of the forms are precise and have been carefully arranged by Callahan. Eleanor looks down at Barbara in a protective way. Barbara tentatively looks at the windowsill. That unplanned tension is the added dimension the mother and daughter bring to the photograph.

Eleanor and Barbara were at the press preview that I attended. I asked Eleanor how Harry had directed her. “Oh, I did exactly what he told me to do. If he said ‘put your hand on your head’, I put my hand on my head. “Well,” I said, “I read that he often developed the pictures the same evening that they were taken. Did you look at them with him?” “No, not usually, I just went with him when he asked me to.”

I asked Eleanor to pose for me in front of four Callahan prints. I placed her in the center of the composition and took her picture with a cell phone camera. I showed the picture to her on the tiny screen. “Is that the picture? Is it finished already?”

Eleanor and Barbara provide a great contribution to Harry Callahan’s amazingly powerful, carefully controlled photographs. What they contribute is a sense of humanity to an otherwise abstract, studied composition. Harry Callahan recognized what they brought to the pictures and, to his credit, incorporated, and took advantage of their magic moments.

Eleanor Callahan, 2007. Photo: George Hornbein.

George Hornbein is an architect and principle in the firm of HOKO Architects in Atlanta.

Roberto Cuoghi, Mei Gui, 2006. Courtesy: Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

Invisible Music

by Giuseppe Gavazza

1 – Introduzione: Adagio-Allegro

Often people say: “I went to see a concert.” What a pleasure, therefore, to discover an important art exhibit whose title asks that one “Listen to the show.” Finally, sound art becomes visible!

The show, “Silence: listen to the show,” was in Turin, Italy (June 1st - September 23th) at Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo ( It offers a good menu: more then 20 hours of sounds by 50 artists--gorgeous to my ears! And, in addition, a complete catalog and CD-Rom with information on the artists, samples of the works (you can download the press release at the website for the complete list).

2 – Esposizione: Andante con moto

Since the visit takes some hours, it is better to go a couple of times: listening to the full “more then 20” hours of sound is quite impossible and ineffective, but even a shorter sampling of listening requires a break.

The visitor, selecting numbers that correspond to works on a telephone-like audioplayer with headphones, can trace his or her own path by choosing what, how much, how many times, and when to listen: it's an art show, not a recital. The experience of listening to this show exists in a micro-temporal dimension. The macro form is all in the guest’s hands: s/he becomes - if not a composer - at least a DJ. It's an experience closer to listening at home than to attending a live concert.

A significant number of works involve visual art--video, sound objects, visual installations--but many are pure, unblended audio works. The exhibition spaces are wide, quiet, and well lighted; the audio player is easy to manage and sounds good. Click on a key and listen to the show.

3 – Sviluppo: Tempo giusto

Like sound navigators, headphoned people walk, stand, and sit, all across the exhibition spaces: How many of them really follow the whole path and listen step by step? I chose random navigation with the compass of menu & pencil, attempting to trace a worthwhile personal map of works through space and history. The show covers the second half of 20th century, with most of the artists coming from Europe and the USA. Purely acoustic pieces have their own places and it's amusing to see people sitting in front of a label on a wall, pressing a key to listen to just that work, moving from that place only at the end (or at the stop) of that listening. Many more issues than I can manage here are connected with time and space perception in art and music. What is the space for the optimum listening to ....... ? The difficulties begin with the difficulty of constructing a clear, unambiguous definition: sound-art? Audio-work? Reproduced/non-performing/loudspeaker music?

Shows like this provide good opportunities to experience works otherwise not easy to find and know, but it sometimes seems to me like a wallpaper catalog: you have all the information necessary to imagine the whole. At the beginning of the exhibition, there is a good viewing/listening room: a quiet space; discreet, color morphing, diffuse illumination; spacious but intimate (about 25 x 25 feet); a big touchscreen from which to select artists, works, and related information; a quite good multi-channel sound system. Enjoying this place and situation, I thought that any town (University, Music Conservatory, Public Library) should have a similar space to listen to a very important part of music history that is otherwise possible to know only in books or in rare stereo versions. Can you imagine knowing an important part of the history of painting in the last century only through b&w printed reproductions in difficult-to-find books? A listening space like this would be much less expensive to build and to manage than a concert hall, and could literally open new spaces of knowledge of the history of music in the last decades. Why not? We hope it will happen soon.

Until this happy new ears era arrives (John Cage quotation; it is difficult to escape from him in such a territory), shows such as the one at Sandretto Re Rebaudengo are most welcome, counterbalancing art curators’ recurrent deafness about sound. I can recall only one other exhibition in recent years that was fully devoted to relationships among music, sound, and the visual arts: the beautiful “Sons et lumière: une histoire du son dans l'art du XXe siècle” (Sounds and light: a history of sound in the art of XXth Century), at Centre Pompidou in Paris (September 22, 2004– January 3rd, 2005).

4 – Ricercare: Calmo

It would be easier to engage in a blind visit to this show than it would be for exhibitions of visual art: please go, click on a random number, listen, form an opinion, and then - if you want – find out what you just listened to and learn about it. This works best with pure audio-work but it's also an interesting and amusing experience to listen and then try to link the audio experience with its visual consort in the exhibition.

We know that context is required to appreciate and understand, and we believe that it is essential to know and understand the critics’ suggestions and theories (the banknote needs a banker’s signature). But I trust that a similar outlook will be useful to orientate in our own personal opinions, giving us the way, perhaps, to discover relations between artists and pieces usually said to be unrelated; to be compelled to listen again to a familiar work; to connect different works by the same artist (or similar works by different artists) with renewed feeling and a fresh curiosity to create a personal shape for the ensemble of the artworks you are discovering. In sum, an outlook that permits us to enjoy a living experience of art and music. Don't overdo it, but try it if you can.

Fugato, un poco adagio e mesto

Our beloved Cage is naturally present, in the title as in the show (and in the CD catalog there is an  excerpt from 4'33'': perfect!) in good company of some essential sound artists (Vito Acconci, John Baldessarri, Christian Marclay) some well known composers (Luigi Nono, Karlheinz Stockhausen) and creative performers like Meredith Monk. There are also some unexpected celebrities like Glenn Gould, (a musician par excellence) and Samuel Beckett (a leading example of a renewed concept of musical theater). By entering a luxury iPod  (the listening room lit in diffused colors) we can listen to our preferred, upgraded electro-musicians like Matmos, Aphex Twin or Pan Sonic; here, more than in many music conservatories, we can hear the lessons of sonic avangardists like Varese, Stockhausen, Schaeffer, Maderna, Risset, Xenakis, Berio, and friends.

Inevitably, some things are missing; a show cannot be an encyclopedia. But looking at and hearing Il muro del tempo (1968) by Mauro Castellani in the main entrance, I thought regretfully of Poème(1962) for 100 metronomes by Ligeti And I miss a room, for example, for the prime I am sitting in a room of Alvin Lucier. And where is Brian Eno, with his ambient music (and other work), or the man-machines of Kraftwerk? Or the early electro visionary groups, like Tangerine Dreams or, why not, Pink Floyd?

I miss just a nod to the sound poetry of Futurism (and all the rich movements still living on the fertile border of the main lenses of celebrity) or the synesthetic utopia of Skrjabin, with his clavier à lumière (light keyboard) in Prométhée (1908-1910). Yes, this is old history, like the just quoted Edgar Varese; but do you realize, for instance, that his Poème Electronique, conceived and realized in 1958 with Le Corbusier, is the mother of all multimedia installations? And, speaking about fecund and organic collaborations between painters and composers, why not the sublime Morton Feldman of Rothko Chapel (1971)? Why not a reflection about the influence of a musical background on a couple of masters of video-art like Bill Viola (he studied music and started as a composer) or Nam June Paik, with his frequent contacts with musical performance? Is it only by chance that video art was developed by so many musicians?

5 – Finale: Ripresa e ritornello

Here we come back (first theme, movement n.3: Tempo giusto) to connections with time and space perception in art and music. Jumping out of museum and concert halls, I simply acknowledge the fact that standard video editing software has the same structure of earlier audio editing programs, which are themselves digital versions of written scores that provide complete information about performing events organized on a timeline. Notations for Varese’s “organized sound” works add organized images.

The absences in the exhibition are exacerbated, in my opinion, by some useless oeuvres: sound-work repeating and delaying worn avant-garde rhetorical forms, beautiful objects perfect for a home furnishings expo, and video graphics on the level of a raw sketch of iTunes 1.1 visual effects.

Isn't the art show world increasingly becoming a SecondLife version of the web experience? Go to, click and consider.


Morton Feldman: “In painting if you hesitate, you become immortal. In music if you hesitate, you are lost.”

John Cage: “Art's obscured the difference between art and life.”

Gillian Wearing, Id Like to Teach the World to Sing, 1995.

Silence: Read about the show 50 artists and (more than) 50 works in (2x) 50 lines about “Silence: listen to the show” Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Torino, June-September 2007

by Giuseppe Gavazza

Silence: Read about the show

1 - Adel Abdessemed: Talk is cheap, 2006. “A very short video, a microphone crashing down onto a pavement creating an explosion of sound”. Not an explosion of creativity. First but not worst.


2 - Vito Acconci, Five works 1969-1977. Pure sounds, voices, and ideas. Good vintage sound-art, certified by the label: “Courtesy EAI (Electronic Art Intermix) New York.”


3 - Doug Aitken, K-N-O-C-K-O-U-T (Sonic Table), 2005. A beautiful object, this table is like a well-polished African wooden drum. It belongs more at IKEA than in an art museum.


4 - Victor Alimpiev, Summer lightings, 2004. A video with sounds. Finger typing as a summer storm is nothing more then a baby’s game.


5 - Aphex Twin, I care because you do, 1995. The mono twin king of stereo “intelligent dance music.” Well known and creative musician: incredible? Nourished, I think, at Zappa's G-spot tornado school. Warp records star.


6 - Micol Assael, Your hidden sound, 2004. A little bird voice “louder then bomb” of many art's pamphlet. Who is the artist? The bird? The artist? The listener?


7 - John Baldessari, Baldessarri sings Lewitt, 1972. Things were probably easier in California during the Pop era. Good results from nothing: low-fi video, low-fi audio. Another EAI NY certified, good vintage product.


8 - Samuel Beckett, Words and music, 1961. A BBC production. Gave voice to a leading example of a renewed concept of musical theater: thank you BBC.


9 - Johanna Billing, Magical World, 2005. School daily reality assumed as art witness. A Swedish artist, a group of “suburb of Zagreb” scholars, a famous African American song. My concept of art and pedagogy is more intimate.


10 - Marcel Broodthaers, Interview with a cat, 1970. Sometimes my friends the French are really unbearable.


11 - John Cage, 5 CD tracks, 1974. The excerpts of the silent 4'33'' in the CD catalog are perfect: Cage leads the curators out of the cage.


12 - Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, Muriel Lake Incident, 1999. “Rhythm: Art: a harmonious sequence or correlation of colors or elements.”(The New Oxford American Dictionary). Finally enhanced rhythm in a music (and not only music) work. A limit of the others?


13 - Enrico Castellani, Il muro del tempo, 1968. György Ligeti wrote his Poeme Symphonique for 100 metronomes six years earlier. It is a masterpiece. Why not present it here?


14 - Martin Creed, Work n. 401, 2005. I don't miss the other 400. Needs the curator's justification to try to convince that it's a piece of art. “Blow raspberries in a microphone (...) banal, squalid sound” in an art gallery in 2005 isn't a urinal in 1917.


15 - Roberto Cuoghi, Mei Gui, 2006. A very Chinese song, voice naturally and electronically modulated. “All that is visible in Mei Gui is the amplification system.” Go to see the show.


16 - Jeremy Deller, Theme Tune for Berlin Biennial by Klezmer Chidesch, 2006. A 7 minutes video of a Klezmer concert. I validated here that the audio player was well synchronized with the images: good tool this audio player.


17 - Sussan Deyhim, Desert equations, 1987. She is an Iranian singer collaborating with composer Richard Horowitz for a dance performance at La Mama in New York. One of the hundreds of quality performances of the last 20 years: Congratulations! She wins the Sandretto extra prize!


18 - Trisha Donnelly, California, 2004. “explores the boundaries of sensorial perceptions”: from what side? ”In this film one can imagine hearing the sounds of turning rings.” Silent rings turn with or without this film.


19 - Ceal Floyer, Goldberg Variations, 2002. “superposes the thirty different versions currently on the market of the Goldberg Variations.” After mp3, the peerless, ultimate music compression algorithm. Good Morning, Mr. Goldberg.


20 - Glenn Gould, The idea of North, 1967. Because he comes next alphabetically, Gould follows the hamburgered Goldberg of Floyer. Gould was an eccentric, full range artist: speaking voices composed in a truly polyphonic music. The Bach lesson lives in a new form.


21 - Henrik Hakansson, The Skylark. From nowhere to somewhere. 2002. One more natural soundscape recording; played with a dj mixing set assume a personality and a relief. The take away vinyl disc a good add-on.


22 - David Hammons, Phat Free, 1995-1999. “The video shows a man kicking a bucket down a New York street.” Go back to n.1.


23 - Terence Hannum, Evocation, (Triptych), 2007. A 24 min video, color, sound in loop of a very noisy heavy metal band's concert. Probably the live concert was a jointed coherent experience.


24 - William Hunt, The impotence of radicalism in the face of all there extreme positions, 2005. Hunt in a live performance sings and plays guitar hanging upside down; a radical, extreme position to make music.


25 - Joris Ivens, Regen, 1929. An old b/w mute film, conceived as a true silent visual composition, appears here with the 1942 Hans Eissler soundtrack. A fine and intelligent example of synergy between music and image. A must for the theme of this show.


26 - Hassan Khan, DOM-TAK-TAK-DOM-TAK, 2005. Multi channel sound installation of a re-recording of six superimposed Shaabi music improvisations. A simple, effective way to show the form of this popular Egyptian music and a good approach to unscrambling musical improvisation.


27 - Louise Lawler, Birdcalls, 1972. An intelligent divertissement made by transforming the names of famous male artists into parrot-like bird voices. A flashy audio placard: early feminism takes care of friend/enemy male artist's advertising.


28 - Arto Lindsay, Treblebass, 2007. A little army of 70's Volkswagen combi vans crosses Bahia, audio equipped as a two-way loudspeaker. From north to south, America's axis: domestic low-power-hi-fi becomes public hi-power-low-fi listening. More amusing then amazing.


29 - Christian Marclay, Mixed Reviews (American Sign Language), 1999-2001; Silver Drip Door (The Electric Chair), 2006. Two fine visual art works as examples of how silence could be burdensome and dense. Contemporary still life strongly that resonates strongly with the title of this show.


30 – Matmos, The Rose Has Teeth in The Mouth Of A Beast, 2006. I love Matmos’s music. This piece presents an interesting puzzle: according to the catalog - Matmos have made musical tracks using the sounds produced by ... (objets trouvés list) – which sounds like a description of early works of musique concrète from the 1950s. What’s the difference?


31 – Momus, Circus Maximus, 1986. Putting Martial, Boccaccio, Rabelais & Dante in pop songs is like putting Giotto, Vermeer or Van Gogh in a cartoon strips. Who need such a melting pot? Ears feel at home, eventually a pleasure.


32 - Meredith Monk, Dolmen Music, 1979. An admirable musical composition. But why here? I mean: why this and not the other hundreds of admirable music compositions of the last 30 years?


33 - Takeshi Murata, Monster Movie, 2005; Cone Eater, 2004. Animated Rorshach blots with hypnotic drumming sounds and no doctor (psychiatrist). I prefer the visualizations iTunes produces: they’re more effective.


34 - Carsten Nicolai, Modell zur Visualisierung, 2001. Light blue light in an aseptic space for pure sinus aseptic sounds and surgery silent blue rays: nothing more then a didactic laboratory experience.  2001: A Sound Odyssey. Please Hal, sing us a lullaby!


35 - Luigi Nono, La fabbrica Illuminata, 1964. A well-known testimonial of the 60's Avant-garde. Noises and voices recorded at iron and steel plants in Genoa mixed with political texts and a score for speaking and singing voices. A meaningful example of new music frontiers from those intense years.


36 - Kristin Oppenheim, The Chase, 2006; The Wolf, 2007. Pure voice and ambient sounds in well composed scores, audio movies capable of telling a story, creating surprise or suspense, resolving questions or situations or leaving them hanging, and stimulating emotions: thank you. Should I nominate you for an Oscar?


37 - Pan Sonic, A, 1999. No concepts, just sounds: essential, bony, fat, physical sounds. Knights of the last electronic frontier, the northern sounds ride the path of experimental electronics of the last half century. See 30.


38 - Diego Perrone, La Ginnastica mi spezza il cuore, 2000. A reality show video on a fragment of the daily reality of an opera singer: vocal gym in a crystal vitrine, a usual street view for unusual muscles. Enchanting chant, for a short while.


39 - Susan Philipsz, There is nothing left here, 2006. Solo voice recording of a sorrowful ballad; a hidden microphone in a lonely woman’s flat. Is this a new era of audio voyeurism? Nothing left here, please don’t come back.


40 - Stefano Pilia, Haikustrings, 2007. Recorded sounds run on three random cd: low cost infinite & eternity. Nature, haiku, life (quoted in catalog explanations) are more serious things. This is nothing more than out of season child’s play.


41 - Mika Ronkainen, Screaming Men, 2004. Men in black choir seriously scream songs much too serious (to be sung), songs like anthems, marches, patriotic songs, giving rise to scandal all over the world. A surprising detector of unsurprising scattered hypocrisy. Revealing.


42 - Julian Rosefeldt, The Soundmaker / Trilogy of failure (Part I), 2004. Definitely an organic audio-video installation. No words to tell a story with sounds and video images on three big screens. High-level production: concept, photo, video, sounds, editing all at the apex.


43 - Anri Sala, Natural Mystic, Tomahawk #2, 2002. High-tech tools supposed to imitate a Tomahawk missile sound whistling in the microphone to “represent the trauma of war.” Another supposedly intelligent bomb, luckily not a killing one.


44 - Tino Sehgal, This is propaganda, 2002. Entering the room, the spectator switches on an unfortunate woman’s voice repetitively singing the title of the work. In my opinion, alienating representations of alienation are more alienating then represented alienation. This is poors paganda (anglo-latin neologism).


45 - Johannes Stjärne Nilsson e Ola Simonsson, Kvinna vid Grammofon (Woman and Gramophone), 2006. Four-minute film of the poetic world of a housewife using a gramophone in a non-conventional way to re-discover her world through the sounds. “The video makes the sounds of life visible”; it also unveils the intense connection hearing and memory.


46 - Karlheinz Stockhausen, Kontakte, 1960. An essential work, probably a masterpiece. But in this context, why not Mikrophonie (same composer, same period)? Much more stimulating and coherent with this show.


47 - Alberto Tadiello, USB, 2007. USB is the acronym for Universal Serial Bus, used by Tadiello to catch the inner voice of the trees. Colored electric cables extend trees’ veins to our ears and consciousness: a good project (but after few minutes I prefer listening to the outer voice of rustling leaves).


48 - Enzo Umbaca, Igor Sciavolino, Metallurgic Sounds, 2007. The video document of an interesting concert - done in an industrial space - mixing an amateur orchestra, professional musicians and recorded industrial sounds. The lessons of La fabbrica illuminata (go to 35) upgraded for our time.


49 - Gillian Wearing, I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing, 1995. A gentle, intelligent way to invent a polyphonic video for a simple monophonic folk melody: ordinary peoples blowing bottles become the living pipes of a video-organ.


50 - Artur Zmijewski, Singing Lesson II, 2003. In the wonderful frame of a Leipzig church, a chamber orchestra performs a Bach Cantata (Hearth and Mouth and Actions and Life) with a young deaf choir: music is such a powerful language that it can happen even where seemingly impossible. An emotion difficult to forget.

Giuseppe Gavazza is a composer who lives and works in Turin, Italy.