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Sound of Music and Crossroads Opens at Turner Contemporary

MARGATE, KENT, UK.- Turner Contemporary presents: Sound of Music and Crossroads featuring work by: Art & Language, Robert Barry, Johanna Billing, Black Noise, Manon de Boer, George Brecht, Angela Bulloch, John Cage, Ellen Cantor & John Cussans, François Curlet & Michel François, Jeremy Deller, Cerith Wyn Evans, Ryan Gander, Babak Ghazi, Pierre Huyghe, Scott King, Véra & François Molnar, Laurent Montaron, Dennis Oppenheim, Allen Ruppersberg, Meredyth Sparks, Jan Vercruysse, La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela.

The exhibition Sound of Music, which explores the different ways artists have been inspired by music and sound from the 1960s to the present day, recently opened at Turner Contemporary Project Space in Margate.

Featuring over thirty art works in various media, from film, video and text to interactive sculpture and sound works, the exhibition offers an opportunity to see some of the works in the collection of the FRAC Nord-Pas De Calais, Dunkirk, who produced the original version of this traveling exhibition.

Sound of Music includes the experiments in sound and composition of key figures such as John Cage and La Monte Young. Influenced by studies of Indian philosophy and Zen Buddhism, Cage proposed that any sound, even silence, can be considered as music and introduced the idea of chance into musical composition. La Monte Young is generally considered one of the first minimalist composers, characterised by a use of long tones and repeated musical phrases.

Language and text come together in Allen Ruppersberg’s The Singing Posters (2003–05) – an installation of poetry excerpts and advertisements printed onto brightly-coloured billboards. Sculptural works by George Brecht, Angela Bulloch and Pierre Huyghe encourage active participation. Visitors are invited to play the 200 suspended chimes that make up Huyghe’s work, which is based on a musical score written by John Cage.

Aspects of popular culture are explored in Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller’s blackboard drawing History of the World (1996) and Ellen Cantor and John Cussan’s documentary-style video Whitby Weekender Dance Lesson (2006). Other artworks in the exhibition share an interest in myth-making, fan culture and the mechanics of the star system, such as Scott King’s series of prints in which historic moments in the mythologies of rock bands are reduced to pure graphics.

Johanna Billing’s video installation Magical World (2005) is the result of a collaboration between the artist and a group of children at an after-school music club in Dubrava, Croatia, who are shown rehearsing Sidney Barnes’ 1968 song of the same title, presenting a poignant glimpse of a country in transition.

Crossroads: David Blandy - Alongside Sound of Music, Turner Contemporary presents Crossroads (2009), an installation by David Blandy.

Crossroads began as an investigation into the mythology surrounding the legendary Robert Johnson, a bluesman with three gravestones, 29 recorded songs and only two known photographs, who reputedly sold his soul to the devil at the crossroads.

Filmed in the heat of the Mississippi Delta, Crossroads is in part a portrait of a landscape still deeply, though not officially, segregated. The film follows a man with a guitar, the Blues Legend, on his journey to the Crossroads to recover his lost soul. The figure roams the landscape looking for a genuine Blues experience, picking guitar on porches and walking dusty roads, to a haunting soundtrack of slide guitar music. Undermining this romantic vision is the appearance of an inverted Minstrel, an alter-ego who haunts the journey.

In this quest for the authentic, the search for the Blues becomes a wider search for self, one man’s search for reconciliation with a plundered culture.

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