piano image

Director’s Corner Address from Christopher Kendall

The inspiration for the 21st Century Consort’s first program of the season is the current Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibition, “Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen,” in which this remarkable artist makes the invisible world visible, blurring the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to document the infrastructures of American surveillance, and constructs unfamiliar, and at times unsettling, ways to see and interpret the world around us.

In his work, according to the New Yorker’s Jonah Weiner, Paglen’s goal is “not so much to expose and edify as to confound and unsettle.” Paglen: “It’s about taking what might be a familiar image and reinscribing it with something else.” David Froom’s new work, “Hidden Motives” mirrors this cryptic intent in musical terms, while the subjects of space, night and light, favored in Paglen’s work, take auditory form in music by Robert Paterson, Robert Gibson and the collaboration of Gemma Peacocke and Xuan Zhang.

In his New Yorker piece, Weiner also writes that Paglen “…has little time for artists who don’t take art’s social purpose seriously” (his artmaking philosophy: “No metaphor. Action.”). We address this M.O. with works by composers who might express the same idea, Jon Deak and Frederik Rzewski.

Paglen once performed in a ruinously loud thrash band called Noisegate, playing the bass, manipulating samplers, and shrieking. With Noisegate, he recalls, “I was thinking about what happens if you’re just working with sound—like, f*** music, f*** tonality, f*** chords.” Another of the band members noted that “…it was not unusual for that band to see their audience flee.” We hope this isn’t the effect of our October 20th program’s opening work by Annie Gosfield, which, however, shares the band’s interest in the artistic uses of noise!

Please see “In Season” for the complete program. We hope to see you there!