Book of Scores at Disjecta

Cinematic moments are often remembered because of the dramatic musical accompaniment. Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho is forever memorable in part for its menacing theme composed by Bernard Herrmann. Likewise, Star Wars is instantly recognized due to John Williams’ heroic use of trumpets. Book of Scores, on view at Disjecta, is an exhibition that is equally as pointed in its intention. Occupying many forms of sculpture, sound, spatial intervention, and print, the scores in Book of Scores aim for an expanded definition of noise and a freethinking consideration of its many uses.

(From left to right) Ellen Lesperance, Alison O’Daniel, and Helga Fassonaki. Book of Scores, 2015; installation view, Disjecta, Portland, OR. Courtesy of Disjecta. Photo: Worksighted.

The exhibition is the first in a series from Curator-in-Residence (and champion of sound matter) Chiara Giovando. Five artists—Helga Fassonaki, T.R. Kirstein, Ellen Lesperance, Johannes Lund, and Alison O’Daniel—responded with new works inspired by everything from Lawrence Halprin’s RSVP Cycles to Georges Perec’s An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris. Halprin defines scores as “symbolizations of processes that extend over time,” encompassing all things from grocery lists to calendars. Perec’s writing illustrates what it is to score place, space, and the mundane with little to no concern for tedium. Bearing this in mind, Book of Scores is a number of interactive meditations and performances that speak to ephemera as concept as much as consequence.

Johannes Lund’s score, Circles (2015), is the byproduct of organized chaos. The work is accessible in three iterations: a fixed sound installation, a transcribed and printed multiple, and an improvisational performance. The print—free for taking—is visually similar to a cartographic sketch or the inner rings of a tree. A bird’s-eye view of irregular circles quickly reveals itself to be an inlaid series of bar staffs and notes. An inscription reads, in part, “To be played as written disregarding tuning of instrument.” On the exhibition’s opening night, Lund and his Portland collaborators, Allan Wilson and Evan Spacht, performed Circles, embodying a fury of live percussion and horns at varying tempos. Broken drumsticks and improvised breath work enhanced the uncertainty of when—or how—the work would conclude. There was no confirmed bandleader, or an obvious band, for that matter. There were simply three makers united over a collective ideal: that “noise” made with intention is not noise at all. A more tightly composed and recorded version of Circles plays full time from speakers in Lund’s installation.

T.R. Kirstein’s A User’s Manual (2015) is also presented in multiple parts. At the building’s exterior, a resonance closely related to a dial tone plays with deafening consistency. Inside, this intervention is elaborated by three large archival prints and a set of directions. Notecards titled, “A Territorial Score for Aggressive Listening (us version),” instructs viewers to choose a public space and make a concentrated effort to listen. Kirstein hopes that the body, directed properly, can be used as a transmitter. The concluding instructions suggest, “Don’t tell anyone. This is not for everyone.”

(From left to right) T.R. Kirstein, Alison O’Daniel, Ellen Lesperance, and Johannes Lund. Book of Scores, 2015; installation view, Disjecta, Portland, OR. Courtesy of Disjecta. Photo: Worksighted.

Ellen Lesperance’s Congratulations on Every Section of Fence Ever Pulled or Cut Down, On Every Minute in Police Custody, Court and On Every Day in Prison. Celebrations for Every Police Vehicle Marked, Challenged, Stopped! Congratulations and Celebrations! (2015), thrives both within Book of Scores and on the internet. The multifaceted work exists as a 1980s-era wool sweater—hand-knit by Lesperance—that is accompanied by a written provocation. Collaborators (or exhibition visitors) are invited to rent and wear the sweater to engage and document themselves in an act of bravery. Lesperance’s costume is inspired by the members of the Greenham Commons Women’s Peace Camp, who protested nuclear power. The sweater is emblazoned with a labrys (a double-headed battle axe), which serves as a symbol of the self-sufficiency and power of women. Fearlessly performed versions of personal and political confrontations exist online at CongratulationsandCelebrations.org.

Helga Fassonaki. Khal (project ephemera), 2015; Portland, OR. Courtesy of the artist and Disjecta. Photo: Worksighted

Helga Fassonaki. Khal (Project Ephemera), 2015. Courtesy of the Artist and Disjecta. Photo: Worksighted.

Helga Fassonaki’s series Khal (2015) is also contingent on the efforts of strongly motivated women collaborators. While on stay in Tabriz, Iran, Fassonaki was struck by local legislation that barred women from singing or performing in public. In an act of critical resistance, the artist produced sixteen sculptural scores, which were mailed to a variety of women makers living internationally. The scores were then performed and documented (as photographs or poetic writing) for what will later become a publication. An unfinished copy of the book is presented in Book of Scores in an archival storage box. The confident acts of disobedience of these women speak to the true potential for scores to manifest thoughtful and methodically orchestrated critiques. A Super 8 recording of one of the scores, 8 Pillars (2015), as well as postal-service packaging from the project, also occupy the space.

Allison O’Daniel. Skater’s Score, 2015 (detail); linoleum installation and performance; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the Artist and Disjecta. Photo: Worksighted.

Allison O’Daniel incites a forthcoming intervention into the space with her work Skater’s Score (2015). Fragments of linoleum tile line the exhibition floor, weaving back and forth with arrows pointing to uncertain locations. It is tempting to be guided by them as one traverses the numerous, beckoning soundscapes. On October 24, O’Daniel will invite an interaction between skateboarders and a choir—no doubt, with the linoleum tracks playing a pivotal role.

Overall, the exhibition proves to be an excellent introduction to Giovando’s penchant for inventive and memorable installations. If Book of Scores is any indication, it seems her curatorial arc will be more closely married to protest chants than to lullabies.

Book of Scores is on view at Disjecta in Portland, Oregon, through November 1, 2015.

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