Schizophonia

This review appeared on artforum.com:

The synagogue turned contemporary art center in sleepy Delme, near Metz, could not be further removed from a white cube, despite its milky-white interior and perfectly square proportions. Modeled after Berlin’s Neue Synagoge, the repurposed building has accommodated an impressive range of group and solo exhibitions over the last two decades. As number symbolism is integral to sacred Jewish architecture, it seems at once fitting and discordant that Latifa Echakhch’s Resolutions (In Progress), 2009, should greet the visitor on the threshold of this well-orchestrated and elegant show guest-curated by Anna Colin and Sam Thorne.

Echakhch’s charcoal-drawn three-digit numbers daubed on the synagogue’s pristine interior walls—each set of numbers corresponds to yet another UN peace resolution in the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict—have somehow been translated into a Minimalist piano score that can be heard, faintly, in the arcaded porch. “Schizophonia,” a term coined by R. Murray Schafer, to whom we also owe the word “soundscape,” exists in such dissonances and translations. Presented on music stands of varying sizes, which appear to float in the white space, Franck Leibovici’s partitions in the latest installment of his “mini-opera for nonmusicians” transcribes MP3s of Islamic war and protest chants in the nasheed tradition.

Spread throughout the synagogue’s airy main and upper galleries, the show combines audiovisual materials, from video projections in the case of Adrian Piper’s infectious Funk Lessons, 1983, to a color-coded mural painting. The Otolith Group’s People to Be Resembling, 2012 is a layered portrait of the Codona jazz trio mixing newly filmed and archival footage, photographic stills, and moving images. Focusing on eight art projects, which include Hiwa K’s concert on the opening night featuring a band of local musicians and amateurs that the Kurdish, Berlin-based artist recruited and trained during a monthlong residency, “Schizophonia” does not cast its net too wide. And yet, by bringing together international artists with split cultural identities and interests in music, sound and spoken word to match, this show has turned the Synagogue de Delme into a free sonic cross-fertilization zone.

 

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