Text: Alec Coiro
Photo: Giacomo Cosua
I was standing outside of a book party when an old D.J. friend came over to talk with the group that had formed. We talked about this and that — his first experience with sweet potatoes and marshmallows casserole, what neighborhoods in NYC have the highest level of dufuses — but the thing this D.J. was really excited about was the palace to music recording that has been summoned into existence at the Venice Biennale by French art star Xavier Veilhan.
Veilhan has transformed the French Pavilion at the Biennale into a post-modern cubist dream studio set in a Scandinavian wood motif with cathedral-level light pouring in from above. Or at least that’s my roundabout way of being clunky enough in the description so as to say, “you have to see it to understand it.”
And one of the most important things to understand about the installation is that it is a fully functioning studio, not simply a simulacrum playing on “studio style.” In the proposal for the work, the artists described “une oevre hybride ou les disciplines at les mediums correspondent et se repondent.” In other words, the essence of the idea is to go beyond simply mixing media to a new notion of putting media in dialog with each other.
The pavilion merges visual arts and music, with a nod to not only Bauhaus and the experiments of Black Mountain College but also Doug Aitken’s Station to Station.
In order to achieve this dialog, Veilhan carefully recruited musicians to participate over the seven month period. While explaining this, the artist also details the artists who formed his inspiration and precedent, “Musicians from all backgrounds are invited to bring this recording studio-sculpture to life, as it becomes home to their creations during seven months of the Biennale. The pavilion merges visual arts and music, with a nod to not only Bauhaus and the experiments of Black Mountain College but also Doug Aitken’s Station to Station.”
The musicians involved represent the international scope and objective that Veilhan conceived. According to the press release, “Xavier Veilhan has invited musicians who are the embodiment of their country or city — but also those just passing through on specific dates — and offers them a unique musical experience within the pavilion’s specially-designed space.”
Of course, the most innovatively international aspect of the exhibition is the fact that it is broadcast across the globe, bringing not only the installation to the world-at-large but also bringing the experience of the Biennale to all. Created with BETC and Deezer and entitled Echoes of the Studio, the broadcast brings each individual instrument being used in the pavilion to its global audience via an interactive landscape of stiff silver threads.
Obviously, if you’re at the Biennale, get to the studio as soon as possible. But if you can’t, taking in Echoes of the Studio is a worthy substitute.