The exhibition NEW RELEASE examines the dialogue between music and visual arts. The exhibition presents Icelandic and international artists that test on the border of visual arts, contemporary music, performance art and sound art. The exhibition opened as part of Cycle Music and Art Festival that took place in Kópavogur August 13 - 16.
NEW RELEASE is curated by Nadim Samman. Samman is a British curator based in Berlin. He is one of two directors of Import Projects in Berlin, a curator at Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary in Vienna and editor of Near East Magazine. He read Philosophy at University College London before completing a doctorate in Art History at the Courtaud Institute of Art. In 2012 Samman curated the 4th Marrakech Biennale with Carson Chan. Projects in 2014 include Antarctopia: The Antarctic Pavilion, 14th Venice Biennale of Architecture and Treasure of Lima: A Buried Exhibition – a unique site – specific exhibition on the remote Pacific island of Isla del Coco.
NEW RELEASE presents the works of Andreas Greiner (DE) & Tyler Friedman (US), Berglind María Tómasdóttir (IS), Bergrún Snæbjörnsdóttir (IS), Boris Ondreička (SK), Charles Stankievech (CA), Christina Kubisch (DE), Curver Thoroddsen (IS), Einar Torfi Einarsson (IS), Hulda Rós Guðnadóttir (IS), Jeremy Shaw (CA), Katrína Mogensen (IS), Logi Leó Gunnarsson (IS), Ólafur Elíasson (DK/IS), Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson (IS), Sigurður Guðjónsson (IS) & Þráinn Hjálmarsson (IS) and The Icelandic Love Corporation (IS).
Where does music come from, and how is it released? Is music an exception to the rule (of silence) or the greatest law of all? Are we composers or, perhaps, just instruments? NEW RELEASE brings together Icelandic and international artists whose work is in tune with these questions.
The dawn of the heliocentric vision, ushering in the age of reason and science, cast one of the most important elements of the classical musical imaginary into shadow: the Pythagorean notion of the harmony of the spheres. Instead of a grand celestial chord, encompassing all entities—living and inanimate—and sustaining them, the cosmos became dead quiet. Within this infinite void the earth was a little corner of whispers, hemmed in by mute walls of nothing. Thus, for the romantic sentiment music would amount to ‘pictures painted on silence'. It would take one Western artist's engagement with Zen to push back against the spectre of universal acoustic void, offering a new musical cosmology—beginning with the axiom of four minutes and thirty three seconds of unplayed piano. Transcending polemic, this redefinition of the musical cosmos quickly converged with our increased mastery of technology and powers of observation—including space exploration. Since then, visionaries have embraced an expanded field of musical competence.
Today, we may record the radio emissions of planets and compose with the electrical frequencies of plants. As such, a contemporary composer might be considered a (self-playing?) instrument in a conditional celestial tune. On one occasion she may be in harmony with a manifestly ‘musical instrument', like a guitar, as the score takes shape. In another, in correspondance with water or perhaps radiation. What is the site of musical release? Molecules? Binary code? Symbol? Intention? Carbon? Perhaps all at once. Contemporary music is radically distributed, in both inner and outer space. And with this observation, once again, dawn breaks over the domain of truly universal music. NEW RELEASE samples the first notes and phrases of this day.
But, in addition, this exhibition includes a counter melody: Can we really think of ourselves as just a series of outputs—heartbeats registered as electrocardiograms, or likes? Even if we are only a small patch of ground in the realm of universal music, doesn't this music have the capacity to make us figures—for a moment? And, in this moment, what is released from us—as us? Where are the boundaries between the instrument and the experience?—between human and not human identity as we move through universal music and all its simulacra. NEW RELEASE riffs upon these questions.
Nadim Samman, curator