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Bigger than Sound
April 6 – May 26, 2024
→ Hessel Museum of Art
Curated by
  • Josefina Barcia
Part of
Exhibition Category
Thesis Exhibitions, Student Curated Projects

Artists: Lolo y Lauti, in collaboration with Rodrigo Moraes, Florencia Werchowsky, and Zulu Souvenir

Performers: Elizabeth Chernyak (violin/viola), Esteban Ganem (percussion), Juan Diego Mora Rubio (percussion), Christopher Nelson (violin), Maya Yokanovich (clarinet), and Yuchen Zhao (violin) of Bard College Conservatory of Music

Bigger than Sound gathers the work of three contemporary artists from Argentina who tackle overlapping histories of classical and experimental music to trouble hegemonic discourses such as colonialism and nationalism.

The new commission Conservatory (2024), by Florencia Werchowsky, features six musicians who perform musical scores appropriated from the classical canon alongside paired performance scores. The musicians express their personal relation to music by reading poetry, making alternative sounds with props, and transforming the gallery space. This collaborative installation-performance-concert hybrid aims to push the boundaries of what is considered “classical” and “experimental” in contemporary art and music.

Artist duo Lolo y Lauti in collaboration with Rodrigo Moraes present Carmen (2018) an audiovisual interpretation of Georges Bizet’s opera enacted by queer and trans performers from Panama. The video embraces opera even as it eschews the original lyrical voice through drag-style lip-synching. Its celebratory mood plays with the fixed notions of what is considered “high art” in Latin America.

Outside the gallery, the sounds of Zulu Souvenir disturb the notion of classicality. The artist mixes structures, melodies, and rhythms from famous classical compositions with field recordings of ordinary noises, such as crickets chirping. To create his pieces, Zulu Souvenir manually alters vinyl records to produce a pastiche somewhere between concrete music and sound art.

These collaboratively minded artworks present different ways of subverting the expected behaviors of bodies that compose, perform, and listen while enabling reflection on the social and symbolic value of classical music through the contemporary art milieu. Each piece in Bigger than Sound is underpinned by classical music. By overlaying classical music with performance and shifting its spatial and institutional contexts, the works queer and interfere in the genre’s ideological coordinates. As musicologist Nina Sun Eidsheim explains, the aim is to go beyond “an analysis of sound, to an analysis of how that sound is listened to”1 —as a way to both question and enhance its power.

In addition to support provided by CCS Bard, this exhibition was made possible thanks to the collaboration of Fundación Williams, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, and the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College.

Conservatory live performance schedule:
Group 1 Opening: Saturday, April 6, 2024, 2 PM
Group 2: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 3 PM
Group 1: Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 10 AM
Group 2: Thursday, May 2, 2024, 12 PM
Group 1: Saturday, May 11, 2024, 3 PM
Group 2: Sunday, May 19, 2024, 3 PM
Performance length approx. 45 minutes

Conservatory performers from the Bard College Conservatory of Music are:
Group 1: Christopher Nelson* (violin), Maya Yokanovich* (clarinet), and Yuchen Zhao** (violin)
Group 2: Elizabeth Chernyak (violin/viola), Esteban Ganem (percussion, vibraphone), Juan Diego Mora Rubio (percussion)
* Neilson Chen accompanying on piano
** Wan-Ling Chen accompanying on piano

  1. Nina Sun Eidsheim, The Race of Sound: Listening, Timbre, and Vocality in African American Music (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2019), 25.