Accompanying a retinally titillating series of large luminescent sculptures in Anthony McCall’s “Solid Light Works” exhibition at the Brooklyn art space Pioneer Works in January will be a music series attuned to the ear. Curated by the composer and writer David Grubbs, the program will feature “Four Simultaneous Soloists” playing in response to McCall’s artworks over the course of four weekends this winter.
“Solid Light Works,” which opens January 12 and continues into March, will feature a series of historical works involving seemingly material projections of light that helped make McCall a figure in the lineage of Expanded Cinema in the early 1970s. In addition to horizontal works for which McCall is most known will be six vertical works that are rarely exhibited owing to requirements of interior size and scale. Along with blackout conditions and hazy air to help make light beams discernible, the vertical works call for more than 30 feet of height to traverse—a necessity that the enormous main hall at Pioneer Works can match.
“Pioneer Works has been interested in music programming and performance in the context of their exhibitions, and Anthony and I have worked on and off for a good period of time,” Grubbs told ARTnews of the music series’ genesis. The partnership began when McCall wanted to reengage sound after a turn toward digital projection removed the incidental sound that used to accompany his use of old film projectors, with all their wheezing and whirring. “He said he realized that he would have to face up to the problem of sound,” Grubbs said. “In our first meeting, he explained that the rate of change of the ‘solid light’ pieces is important because, if they move too fast, people stay rooted to a spot—and then that’s cinema. But if they change slowly enough over time that people are compelled to explore them from all sides, then that’s sculpture.”
After looking at images of McCall’s vertical light works in the past, “they seemed like soloists to me,” said Grubbs, who has worked in collaborative projects as a musician (with Susan Howe, the Red Krayola, Gastr del Sol, and more) and authored the books Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (Duke University Press, 2014) and Now that audience has assembled (due out via Duke in April 2018).
So the s0und programming, to be performed on Friday nights during the exhibition’s run, will feature four musicians improvising on their own in different parts of Pioneer Works expansive space. “We tried to find ways that sounds could compel people to move throughout a space and continue moving,” Grubbs said. “You can’t stand in one place and hear it all—you have to move around.”
The lineup for the music series follows below.
C. Spencer Yeh