The Museum of Modern Art’s second-floor atrium has been home to a wide range of high-octane installations over the past few years, from Pipilotti Rist’s swirling, hyper-colored video piece to Song Dong’s Hoarders-esque pile of shoes, pots and toys, to Marina Abramovic’s staring contest. Taking things down a notch is Carlito Carvalhosa, an artist well known in his native Brazil, though less so abroad. (This is his first museum show in North America.) His installation Sum of Days, dominated by a circular, semitransparent white scrim that hangs 60 feet from floor to ceiling, is at the museum through Nov. 14.
Carlito Carvalhosa: Sum of Days, 2010. Installation view at the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo.
While Sum of Days is on view, the museum’s atrium will be illuminated by vertical white neon tubes attached to the surrounding walls. Viewers enter the work, which evokes a fluttering and sun-bleached Richard Serra torqued ellipse, via a narrow, curving passageway. Four microphones hang from the ceiling, along with a dozen or so small metallic speakers suspended at varying heights and mounted to the walls.
The microphones will record the ambient noise created by the throngs of visitors each day, and play it back through the speakers the following day. Several times throughout the course of the exhibition, Carvalhosa’s good friend Philip Glass will perform in the space, as will soloists from Glass’s ensemble. The performances will occur weekly, announced day-of via MoMA’s Twitter; the idea, according to curator Luis Pérez-Oramas, is that museumgoers will happen upon a live piano, flute, saxophone, violin or vocal performance “like in a subway situation”—a highbrow one at that.
Carvalhosa is adamant that the musicians were not brought in to “score” his installation. “It’s exactly the opposite,” he told A.i.A. “The music is a confrontation, it’s independent . . . I just invited friends and said, ‘do something.'”
At the preview this morning, which felt a little incomplete since there were, for obvious reasons, not yet any layers of recorded or live sound, Carvalhosa recounted an observation someone made when Sum of Days was installed last fall, in São Paolo. “Someone asked, ‘How do you make the piece move with the rhythm [of the music]?’ I said, ‘It’s not, that’s just how you see it.’ . . . We are alive, and we see it moving and think it’s alive, too. But it’s not.”
Sum of Days is on view the Museum of Modern Art, New York, Aug. 24-Nov 14. Follow @MuseumModernArt on Twitter for information on weekly live performances.