Rebel-Artist Konrad Smoleński Fills West Gallery with an Anarchic Sonic-Visual Feast

Karen Kedmey
Sep 19, 2014 9:33PM

The Hague’s West gallery has invited rebel-artist Konrad Smoleński into its rooms, and he has done what he does best: combined images, objects, and sounds into beguiling and beautiful arrangements that evoke a mix of anxiety, disorientation, and awe. In collaboration with the gallery, and incorporating work by American audio artist Gregory Whitehead, Basque noise artist Mattin, and British spiritual medium Jack Sutton, Smoleński presents “Split,” an exhibition inspired by the concept of the “split” music album, whose sides are divided between two or more individual musicians.

Here the “split” takes the form of pairings of Smoleński’s work with that of Whitehead, Mattin, and Sutton. In one room, for example, a haunting installation titled Fly (2000) confronts visitors. It is composed of five microphone stands topped by cow skulls, their eye sockets fitted out with speakers. A naked light bulb hangs down from the ceiling in the middle of this strange circle, illuminating the macabre site. A familiar droning buzz issues from the speakers: the sound of a fly, that companion of the cow, both in life and death. The artist has paired this work with a sound piece by Mattin. Called Tinnitus, in reference to the hearing damage that causes ringing or buzzing in the ears, it features intentionally irritating sounds coming from a speaker set on a simple wooden pedestal. Taken together, these two works create a kind of concert of aural disturbance, at once distracting and mesmerizing. 

“Split” is accompanied by a new publication by sociologist and music critic Michel Libera. It comes with a cassette tape filled with sounds from Smoleński’s works on one side, and audio pieces selected by Libera on the other—so viewers can bring a piece of this evocative exhibition home.

Following the exhibition, West presents the world premiere of Smoleński’s monumental, architectural sound work One Mind In a Million Heads, the centerpiece of Volkspaleis, which takes place through November 16th at The Hague’s Zuiderstrandtheater in Scheveningen. A giant tunnel installation utilizing speakers and projectors, the work was created in collaboration with choreographer Noa Shadur and curator Michael Libera. Smoleński’s largest installation of this kind to date, Mind In a Million Heads explores how sound influences the public. Over five weekends international sound artists are welcomed to perform and by the close of the exhibition the sound will have evolved to almost silence.

Karen Kedmey

Split by Konrad Smoleski, Gregory Whitehead, Mattin, and Jack Sutton” is on view at West Den Haag, Sept. 6 – Oct. 11, 2014.

Volkspaleis with One Mind in A Million Heads by Konrad Smoleński” is on view at Zuiderstrandtheater in Scheveningen, The Hague, Oct. 18–Nov. 16, 2014.

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