Kumu Contemporary Art Gallery opens the doors of Estonia’s first large exhibition dedicated to sound art: Out of Sync. Looking Back at the History of Sound Art. Works by twelve Estonian and foreign artists, which provide a survey of sound art as a diverse art medium, are included.
The works of the artists on display demonstrate how varied the sound-based art medium is. One of the aims of the exhibition is to start the mapping and in-depth analysis of this relatively new medium inside Estonia.
The exhibition is divided into three parts. The historical part examines experiments with sound from the 1960s to 1990s, the second part examines Estonian contemporary sound art, and the third part – the archival part – is a concentrated information capsule of radio programmes, documentary videos, photos etc.
The term “sound art” includes all the phenomena and practices related to sound, listening and hearing. Sound art, which did not develop as a separate art form until the end of the last century, includes very diverse fields of activity directed at the sense of hearing (visual music, sound sculpture, sound poetry, experimental music, happenings, presentations etc.).
Alvin Lucier (1931), a sound artist from the US, has been working with experimental music since the 1960s and today is one of the classics of sound art. The exhibition includes his sound installation Sound on Paper (1985), which disappeared for 20 years into the art museum’s collection (received as a gift in 1993). The work examines the physical traits of the simplest elements: paper and sound waves. Exile Estonian artists are represented by the poet and translator Ilmar Laaban (1921–2000), who worked in Sweden. Within the framework of the exhibition, he is focused on as one of the first artists in Sweden to deal with sound poetry; his sound works are little-known in Estonia.
Raul Meel (1941) was chosen for the exhibition as the only local representative of visual poetry. A diverse selection of works by Kaarel Kurismaa (1939) is included in the exhibition, as one of the most famous representatives of Estonian sound sculpture. Villu Jõgeva (1940), who dealt with the synthesis of sound and light in the 1970s, is another Estonian artist, along with Kurismaa, who placed great importance on sound early in his career.
Of the works by Kiwa (1975), an artist who plays with various artistic forms, the exhibition offers the installation Nameless (2013), which can be considered to be the continuation of a similar work from 2011, The Motor Girls are Performing for You. Rauno Remmel (1969–2002), a multimedia artist with an academic music education, played an important role in the development of Estonian electronic and computer music. He combined his composing with visual art, thereby marking the triumph of multimedia art that started in the 1990s. John Grzinich (1970), who works at the Mooste Visitors’ Studio (MoKS) in southern Estonia, focuses on the relationship between sound and the environment. The work of the artist and musician Andres Lõo (1978) poses questions about the relationship between music and sound. Raul Keller (1973) approaches sound spatially, by focusing on the physical experience of listening to sound. Mati Schönberg (1948), who produced sound backgrounds for performances in the 1980s, is represented by a re-staged sound project.
In the library, in addition to reading, visitors can listen to Propro Prop, a project by the Swedish sound artist Mats Lindström (1960), which includes eight hours of sound works by numerous foreign artists.
The exhibition curators are Kati Ilves and Ragne Nukk, the designers are Raul Kalvo and Helen Oja, and the graphic designers are Kaarel Nõmmik, Priit Pärle and Janar Siniloo.
An extensive book will also appear that includes photo documentation on the works on display and articles by the curators, as well as by Kiwa, Sven Vabar, Teddy Hultberg, Kaur Garšnek and Katrin Parbus. The Cultural Endowment of Estonia has supported the publication of the book.
Information on the exhibition and additional programme is also available on Facebook.
Out of Sync. Looking Back at the History of Sound Art will be open at the Kumu Art Museum until 12 January 2014.