Sergei Tcherepnin's PIED PIPER, PART II: RINGING ROCKS Set for Art Basel, 6/13-16
Sergei Tcherepnin's Pied Piper, Part II: Ringing Rocks will be on view at Art Basel, Booth S4 from June 13-16, 2013.
In 1284, suffering from a rat infestation, the town of Hamelin was approached by a man dressed in multi-colored clothing who promised to rid the village of its rodents in exchange for a small fee. Playing music on his pipe, he lured the rats into a nearby river where they all drowned. And yet, despite his unquestionable success, the town refused to pay this piper. Promising revenge, he returned one evening while the residents were asleep, and, playing music in a frequency that only young people could hear, he lured the children of Hamelin away from the town and into a cave from whence they were never seen again.
Taking its starting point in this myth of music, entrancement, and breach of contract, Sergei Tcherepnin has reimagined the violent "revenge" of the Pied Piper for Art Basel. Amidst the sedate and enclosed booths of Art Statements, various foreign objects lurk: copper rats perched deviously on the floor, steel boxes with long sonorous "tongues", an altered motorcycle helmet wired to a turntable, and a 3-meter "cave" clad in burlap, aluminum and zinc. Affixed with surface transducers - small devices that convert electrical signals into vibrations - each of these materials is a speaker in a delirious and exceedingly strange composition: the walls of the cave resonate with eight percussive channels of sound, the rats ring out periodically, the metal tongues vibrate like ringing rocks, and the helmet envelops visitors' heads with its melodic reverberation.
Pulling people in and pushing them out, the cave at the center of Tcherepnin's installation resembles an elevator. But whereas an elevator is often filled with ambient music designed to blend into the background - to create a pleasant atmosphere and to hold or contain people - the sounds emanating from the walls of this "elevator-cave" bear a physical presence and a lurking sense of violence. Tcherepnin inverts the function of "elevator-music": in a time when most music files are compressed into MP3s and played through headphones whose presence we are conditioned to forget, here visitors are asked to listen "actively", and to imagine listening as an expansive state of activity - aural, haptic, visual, proprioceptive. Perhaps we can imagine that the Piper and children have formed a new society together in their cave, where, in opposition to various forms of music structured by repetition and homogeneity, new possibilities arise for intimacy between bodies and sounds.
The sounds in Tcherepnin's installation derive from field recordings that he made at Ringing Rocks, a mysterious agglomeration of large boulders in northern Pennsylvania. Barren and devoid of vegetation or animal life, this open field contains rocks that, when struck, are said to miraculously ring out like metal bells. Recording and re-recording these sounds in a domestic "cave" in his New York apartment, Tcherepnin has also produced a lathe-cut record, Clifton Cave, to accompany his installation. A conceit for the enchanting music of the Piper, the composition beckons listeners to consider the various forces of music within this mythic narrative: as that which gathers, holds, and moves people, both creating order and doing violence.
Trained as a composer, Sergei Tcherepnin (b. 1981 Boston, MA) works at the intersections of sound, sculpture, and theatre. His work is currently on view in the Georgian Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, and he will be included in the forthcoming exhibition Soundings, opening on August 1 at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Recent exhibitions include Ear Tone Box, Murray Guy, New York (2013); The Imminence of Poetics, 30th Bienal de São Paulo (2012); Looking at Listening, with Ei Arakawa, Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (2011); Be a speaker. So be it..., with Ei Arakawa and Gela Patashuri, CAC Brétigny (2011) and the Showroom, London (2011). Recent performances include The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2012); Art Institute of Chicago with Das Institut and United Brothers (2012); Issue Project Room, Brooklyn with Woody Sullender (2012); the 30th Bienal de São Paulo, with Jutta Koether and Yuki Kimura (2012); and Gavin Brown's Enterprise, New York with Das Institut and United Brothers (2012).
Read more on Tcherepnin's work, including recent articles and press.