William Engelen combines music and visual art in a unique wax. His musical compositions apply highly diverse processes and his scores take just as many different forms. Sometimes they are independent graphic works of art, which the musicians have to interpret; sometimes his compositions consist in edited audio-recordings. William Engelen's works are determined mainly by unique situations or specific spaces. Part of his compositional work for Osnabrueck was to connect different areas of media perception and to play with the human senses of the listeners.
In the exhibition Today, the Organ Has Played Beautifully Again visitors listen to an organ in the nave of the former Dominican church which is part of the exhibition space of Kunsthalle Osanbrueck
. With the title of the composition William Engelen plays with the expectation and perception of the visitors of classical organ concerts as well as of those coming to this exhibition: it lies in the nature of the organ construction, that the player of the same is usually not to be seen. In the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, however, not only is the instrument itself not to be seen, it is also virtually absent. That was not always like this:
The invisible instrument is the historical Klausing organ and one listens to a composition that William Engelen composed especially for this instrument. On October 14, 2018 it was first performed in the St. Matthew Church in Melle, a small town close to Osnabrueck. The Klausing organ has been there for almost 200 years, having been transferred from the 1803 secularized Dominican monastery, which today houses the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, to the local community in 1819. With the show Today, the Organ Has Played Beautifully Again, the organ is again translocated and "returned" to the nave of the Kunsthalleat least acoustically.
At the premiere of the piece in Melle, the church musician Stephan Lutermann played the organ and William Engelen took over the role of the composer as well as the one of the so-called blower. As the bellows treader, he himself manually regulated the air supply of the organ pipes, a procedure that requires full body commitment in contrast to the current electrical air supply of the organs. The mechanical operation of the bellows mechanism influences the volume and length of the sound and makes it oscillate in an astonishing way. The air escapes, is braked, stopped, pumped or flows evenly. The different "playing techniques" with the bellows on this special organ deliver unheard-of sounds. Organist and blower tray all the tonal possibilities of the instrument and observe how they unfold and move in the church space. They explore the limits between the inaudible and the physically perceptible. The 76-minute composition consists of 12 parts.
A two-channel video not only documents the premiere of the piece in the Meller St. Matthew's Church, but also offers a glimps behind the scenes: In addition to the recording of the mposing Klausing organ and the premiere audience, the organist and his blower can be observed.
In addition to the premiere in Melle, there was another sound performance, which included the public in the production of the exhibition and the respective video and sound recordings are shown in the Kunsthalle. On September 22 the concert Gebrauchsspuren (Traces of Use) took place on the square at the St. Katharinenkirche in Osnabrueck. Sounds from a piano came down from the second floor of the Lortzinghaus to the lively square.
Here again, the musician seemed absent: Gebrauchsspuren was performed by the Canadian pianist Benoît Gagnon, who showed himself only shortly after the last set at the window. His invisibility transformed the visual and acoustic everyday space into a sensual experience in which the sounds in the square mingled with the sounds coming from the window. In the exhibition in the Kunsthalle Osnabrück, this concert is presented in a three-channel video installation with double stereo sound.
William Engelen was born in Weert, The Netherlands, in 1964 and lives and works in Berlin.
Exhibitions by William Engelen (selection): Falten, Drawing Center, New York, USA; Partitur Belval, PAE, Belval, Luxembourg; Bienial de las Indas, Cartagena, Colombia; Drawing a Universe, Kai 10, Düsseldorf; Mobile after Calder, Kunsthalle Wilhelmshaven (Germany); Ambitus, Kunstmuseum Kloster unser lieben Frauen, Magdeburg (Germany); I wish this was a song, Nasjonalmuseet for kunst, arkitektur og design, Oslo, Norway; Music Box, Haus am Waldsee, Berlin; Das Gespinst, Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach (Germany), Extended composition, CentrePasquArt, Biel, Switzerland; System und Sinnlichkeit, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin.
Selected music festivals and performance venues Maerzmusik, Berlin; Klangbrücken Hanover; Bludenzer Tage Zeitgemäße Musik, Bludenz; Ultima, Oslo; Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Utrecht; Issue Projectspace, New York; ZDF Hauptstadtstudio, Berlin; Akademie der Künste, Berlin; Bauhausbühne, Dessau; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Doelen, Rotterdam.
The show Heute hat die Orgel wieder schön gespielt by William Engelen is a cooperation with the Freunde der Kunsthalle Osnabrück e. V. and is supported by the Niedersächsische Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur.