Picture this: A long hallway, brightly lit in the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Spectators and visitors stood around talking. All of a sudden a capella sound filled the hall. The crowd parted as the “Crossing” singers walked down the hall, singing perfectly in tune. This was not easy music and there was no accompaniment or referent. There were silences and much moving around–this was not your typical chorus performance! There was no conductor or chorusmaster (Donald Nally is the musical director of the group but he was not in the performance) to keep the beat or wave a baton for them to follow. One “sees” the intervals as the group moves in relation to the lines that they sing. It is a representation in time and space using their bodies and their voices. The sound was glorious and for sure, this rendition of Christopher Rountree’s In the Midst of Things is a highlight of the exhibition called “Intervals.”
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are both based in Puerto Rio, although Calzadilla is originally from Cuba and Allora is a Philadelphia native. Intervals encompasses the different relationships between time, space, music, visual art and sound. It is a multimedia exhibit that includes musical performances by The Crossing and other groups, installations that combine video, sound, performance and visual arts.
Another intriguing installation in Intervals is “The Great Silence.” This includes videos of parrots in Puerto Rico and images of the the radio telescope in Esperanza, Puerto Rico. This installation is at the The Fabric Workshop and Museum on the second floor and lasts for 16:22 minutes. During this experience, there is text on another screen which imagines that conversation that this endangered species of parrots might have. Ted Chiang, a science fiction author, contributed the dialogue. From The Great Silence subtitles: “Humans have lived alongside parrots for thousands of years, and only recently have they considered the possibility that we might be intelligent. ”
The exhibition INTERVALS, is a collaboration headed by the performance artists, Allora & Calzadilla. Other partners in this series include: The Crossing, Relâche, David Lang, Ted Chiang, Christopher Rountree, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Fabric Workshop and Museum. The official opening was on Friday December 12, and the exhibition will continue until April 5, 2015. The calendar is extensive with the films, installations, visual art and performances. For more information: phiilamuseum.org