Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

inauguracion2 Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, Intallation View

As I walked into the interior patio that gives way to the gallery space, I came across an old barrel organ player, an instrument considered by today’s standard as ancient technology. The instrument’s surface is scared by the passing of time, but its pipes can still harmonize a tune. On its sides, the barrel organ player had a series of keys. I proceeded to play the keys on the barrel organ shortly after a gallery attendant -possibly disrupted by my melody- approached me to teach me how to play the instrument. He explained that the card keys were the invitations of the art exhibition I came to see. The card keys were left behind the night of the opening, when guests had the opportunity to play their invitations in the order they pleased. Suddenly, on the other side of the gallery I recognized a familiar disrupted song. This is how I began the process of engaging with Anri Sala’s first solo show at the Kurimanzutto Gallery in Mexico City, by playing The Clash’s Should I Stay of Should I Go, which echoes throughout the gallery space and at other places in the city intervened by Sala as part of the exhibition.

window Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, No window no cry (Juan O’Gorman, Biblioteca Central de la UNAM), 2011

While trying to decipher the origin of the louder version of Should I Stay or Should I Go, the spectator encounters a wall piece that looks like a window. In its center there is a music box. Square-shaped, this piece is made with glass and framed with wood and mounted on a black wall. When one plays the music box an echoing song is reproduced again, Should I Stay or Should I Go. From this point of view nothing can bee seen through the window. When walking around the black wall, spectators will come into a large proyection of the film Le Clash.[1] The cacophony of sounds result in an all encompassing auditory experience similar to that of listening music on an Ipod or CD player. With the soundtrack of The Clash’s popular song, the film documents the passing of two musicians that walk around a park and a once notorious punk venue in a European City. One of the men has a nostalgic gaze and wanders around the park with a music box that plays different tunes of the same melody. The other, walks slowly around the deteriorated venue with a barrel organ, much like the one at the entrance of the main gallery. Parts of this deteriorated venue have been covered with graffiti, but still one can easily distinguish on its facade an old mural as it has the appearance of a famous Mondrian painting. The film doesn’t seem to have a beginning or an end. Its narration is composed by the changing tunes and a subtle moment of tension when the two men come across each other in front of the venue. Opposite to the projection of Le Clash, rests the other side of the window seen prior to the film. However, on this side there is a glare of light that passes through and permits you to see other spectators engaging with the music box.

 

 

anri Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, Le Clash (video still), 2010

leclash Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, Le Clash (video still), 2010

Through the language of music, this exhibition signals connection among sound, the image and cultural context. The Repeating of objects and popular song, point to the construction of a collective memory while bringing awareness to the present work. By playing the music box or the organ player located in the entrance of the gallery, Sala’s work gives the sense that one is performing along with the video. Music gives spectators the opportunity to physically take action, as it happened during the opening, or craft their own journey through the exhibition. With the distance of the camera, Sala blurs the relationship between popular culture, its forms of engagement and the possibilities of contemporary art. The work speaks to a contemporary audience who do not necessarily desire to differentiate between stimulating visual art and a new Quentin Tarantino film or a band like The Clash.[2] Ultimately, putting forward the idea that in today’s modes of cultural production a melody travels faster than an image.

leclash4 Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, Le Clash (video still), 2010

There Appears to Be None is another work taking part on this exhibition, located in a quieter space at the back gallery of Kurimanzutto. This is a project by Anri Sala and long time friend of the artist Edi Rama, also known as the mayor of Tirana. In this project they collaborated on a series of drawings. These are abstract colorful figures that were made on top of old email conversations. Across from the drawings there are a series of conversations that Rama had with artist Phillipe Parreno, art critic Michael Fried, philosopher Marcus Steinweg and politician Erion Vellak. Each conversation is presented in its audio and written version. They range from topics such as democracy, drawing, and artistic production. By mode of speech and trace, in Inversion Creating Space Where, the distance of the camera is traded for a conversation -as a politician is invited to delve between art and life.

leclash3 Anri Sala at Kurimanzutto

Anri Sala, Le Clash (video still), 2010
The exhibition also took place simultaneously in different parts of the city. At the Library of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), for instance, one can find a replica of the glass window located inside Kurimanzutto, which also plays The Clash’s song. The UNAM is not only the largest educational and public institution in the Americas, it’s also known for its political activism. Although this is not the first time that a gallery in Mexico City exhibited an artifact that goes into the public space, Sala’s bold gesture reveals that the creative dimensions that define our society now lies both in the private and public spheres, which are separated in an illusionary fashion.[3] This contrast between the gallery space (market) and the UNAM (public) encourage a political space between cultural institutions which can appear to be in conflict with each other.
-Maria Elena Ortíz

[1] This work was previously presented at the 29th São Paolo Biennial

[1]“THE MUSEUM REVISITED – Kathy Halbreich . Jeffrey Deitch . Tino Sehgal . Manuel Borja-Villel . Rem Koolhaas . Ann Goldstein . Oscar Ho Hing-kay . Helen Molesworth . Pawel Althamer . Joanna Mytkowska . Roman Ondák . Ann Philbin . Tania Bruguera . Daniel Birnbaum and Hans Ulrich Obrist . Olafur Eliasson . András Szántó . Ann Temkin . Jeffrey Kastner . Lars Nittve . Adriano Pedrosa . Inés Katzenstein . R. H. Quaytman . Julian Rose . Chantal Mouffe . Pi Li . Tim Griffin”. 2010. Artforum International. 48 (10): 280.

[1] “THE MUSEUM REVISITED – Kathy Halbreich . Jeffrey Deitch . Tino Sehgal . Manuel Borja-Villel . Rem Koolhaas . Ann Goldstein . Oscar Ho Hing-kay . Helen Molesworth . Pawel Althamer . Joanna Mytkowska . Roman Ondák . Ann Philbin . Tania Bruguera . Daniel Birnbaum and Hans Ulrich Obrist . Olafur Eliasson . András Szántó . Ann Temkin . Jeffrey Kastner . Lars Nittve . Adriano Pedrosa . Inés Katzenstein . R. H. Quaytman . Julian Rose . Chantal Mouffe . Pi Li . Tim Griffin”. 2010. Artforum International. 48 (10): 283.

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