A sound and visual installation
Passi, Museo Novecento Florence 2015
The cycle of works titled Passi [Steps] originates from a work presented in 2003 at the Certosa di Padula, and since then presented in many different venues, always highly significant places from either the historical/artistic or the political viewpoint, or better still, possessing both of these characteristics.
The Museo Novecento in Florence is one of these places, where historical characteristics are combined with specific traits representative of the role that Florence has played and continues to play in the collective imagination of the world. In a certain sense, Florence is the city of all of the 20th centuries that have traversed the history of humanity, even before the advent of this century.
Passi, this time, is set not only in a specific place, but in this magical number forming a syntheses of all of the 20th centuries of the past and those still to come. This time, unlike the others, the mirrors that crack and splinter under the visitor’s feet, generating the sound that the musician and composer Alvin Curran processes, will not occupy all of the space available, but only the “constructed” part, a square divided at the center by a cross, which in turn creates other squares, flower-beds of the same hue of green that will be framed by the compact blue of the sky and by the grey of the stone of which the building facing on the cloister is made. The straight paths will be broken under the weight of the bodies traversing them, reflecting a grieving, shattered image of a place and an epoch that once attempted to fuse logical reasoning with religious and symbolic aspects. For the first time, thanks to the live contribution of Alvin Curran, the acoustic nature that the work Passi possesses in my imagination will be emphasized. This aspect has always played a vital role, certainly neglected up to now, insofar as considered mainly a comment on the image rather than a factor inherent to the work itself. This time, on the contrary, Passi will be a kind of musical instrument set within an architectural space. An instrument that each individual will be called upon to “play” with his or her presence alone and simply by moving about in this space. The space of Passi consists of a cross within a square, with a round well marking the point of connection between the two lines/paths, almost like a head that unites the two figures, a crucifix within a square, a perfect synthesis of humanism and faith, a conjunction that this work will render evident only to criticize and disassemble it at the same time. Which is to say: art is not (either yet or still) the mirror of the world, but rather its representation and transformation (acoustic).
Democratic, irreverent and traditionally experimental, Alvin Curran travels in a computerized covered wagon between the Golden Gate and the Tiber River, and makes music for every occasion with any sounding phenomena -- a volatile mix of lyricism and chaos, structure and indeterminacy, fog horns, fiddles and fiddle heads. He is dedicated to the restoration of dignity to the profession of making non-commercial music as part of a personal search for future social, political and spiritual forms.
Curran's music-making embraces all the contradictions (composed/improvised, tonal/atonal, maximal/minimal...) in a serene dialectical encounter. His more than 200 works feature taped/sampled natural sounds, piano, synthesizers, computers, violin, percussion, shofar, ship horns, accordion and chorus. Whether in the intimate form of his well-known solo performances, or pure chamber music, experimental radio works or large-scale site-specific sound environments and installations, all forge a very personal language from all the languages through dedicated research and recombinant invention. With a fortuitous bang, he begins his musical journey (1965 in Rome) as co-founder of the radical music collective MUSICA ELETTRONICA VIVA, as a solo performer, and as a composer for Rome's avantgarde theater scene. In the 70's, he creates a poetic series of solo works for synthesizer, voice, taped sounds and found objects. Seeking to develop new musical spaces, and now considered one of the leading figures in making music outside of the concert halls -- he develops a series of concerts for lakes, ports, parks, buildings, quarries and caves -- his natural laboratories. In the 1980's, he extends the ideas of musical geography by creating simultaneous radio concerts for three, then six large ensembles performing together from many European Capitals. By connecting digital samplers to MIDI Grands (Diskklavier) and computers, since 1987, he produces an enriched body of solo performance works -- an ideal synthesis between the concert hall and all sounding phenomena in the world. He creates a visually striking series of sound installations, some of them in collaboration with visual artists including Paul Klerr, Melissa Gould, Kristin Jones, Pietro Fortuna, Umberto Bignardi, Uli Sigg. Throughout these years he continues to write numerous pieces for radio and for acoustic instruments.
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