April 19- May 24, 2014, Thomas Solomon Gallery, Los Angeles, CA
Thomas Solomon Gallery
427 Bernard Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Opening April 19, 6-8pm
Curated by John Souza
Intern, Judy Kang
Thomas Solomon Gallery presents After Noise, an exhibition by Los Angeles-based artists Gala Porras-Kim, Elana Mann and Susan Silton, who, as a basis of study for their work, consider the social implications of sound. The artists are noteworthy for the conceptual content and formal qualities of their art and for the line of thought in their approach. The soundtracks, vocal clues, musical codes and telltale silences in their artworks are signs that interpret art’s journey to noise.1 Human activity and the works produced by it over time have become progressively more uniform through the recycling of ideas. A droning hum containing worn out cultural frequencies steadily degenerates to match that of society by measure of its disorder, randomness and loss. Viewpoints and misinformation digested into this organism will expand with historical validation or contract with negation to persist within a line of events over successive years, like in theory, where the conversation and its philosophical potential slowly dissipates to entropic blare. For this exhibition, the artists prefigure and defy this future noise by studying past and current-day life related to sound. Their artworks range from diagrams and objects to video recordings and performances—tools for learning or describing the sounds of inequity. By seeking a political core in each work, one finds the subjects of human rights, linguistics and ethnohistory appearing in their twilight before stillness sets in. The artists unearth internal languages that briefly rile and delay the flow of gathering jangled sound en route to its foreseeable destination. Their rationale becomes a passageway between ephemeral purposes and something unknown (i.e. infinity) constructed in a learned environment that presumes models of progress.
In past work, Gala Porras-Kim examined the historical steps taken to produce the whistled version of the indigenous tonal Zapotec2 language. She used information from different fields to investigate how these tones alone could be used to communicate. This interdisciplinary approach led her to finding an endangered way of life impacted long ago by imposing Euro-centric colonial politics. Her work relied heavily on the considerable research material that was collected and considered before any art object was produced. For this exhibition, Porras-Kim used similar methods prior to fashioning Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces. These objects not only map out the loss of cultural recollection, but also have sonic ghosts from our collective memory still lingering within them. Her intention has been to learn how the immersion or containment of sound is influenced by object type, and how that connects to perception. With Future Spaces Replicate Earlier Spaces Porras-Kim tries to remember, imagine and recreate specific acoustics over time and across space. The objects reference artifacts from ancient Peru of unknown purpose, which have been reapropriated into current spiritual rituals. Now, the viewer can theorize from the object’s appearance an interpretation using his or her own explanation, or simply ask practical questions about sound traits that are incited by one of the peculiar shapes. For the time being, this concise grouping of objects behaves like bits of visual information that compassionately forewarns of the noise to come.
In a similar way, Elana Mann’s art alerts us to the fine art of listening. She follows a line of investigation through the history of hearing devices—earpieces capable of amplifying sociopolitical incidents at the sites where such events have occurred. One can argue that the potential for a hearing aid to gauge historical misjudgments or omissions is important only when one trusts in the human assessment of sound. For this show, Mann, with listening as redeemer of misinterpretation and injustice, has produced a diverse collection of collages, sculptures and performances that express her observations related to site and social struggle. She reflects on the concept of listening through an inquiry that invites review of the historical record. Using old listening aids as material for her work, Mann finalizes two sculptures, Having a voice and having a choice (2014) and Having a choice and having a voice (2014), that face each other in conversation. In addition, her collages (made from photo snippets placed on solid-color backgrounds) incite a timely assessment of human rights and the inaccurate socio-historical record. The works refurbish memory and offer new possibility for personal transformation. Mann will also be performing an ongoing piece during the run of the exhibition titled All Ears, which investigates the role of the artist as a present and active witness. All Ears is a series of one-on-one performances that will occur biweekly and take place outside the gallery walls. During the performance, Mann will listen without judgment to three continuous hours of whatever a speaker needs to vocalize out loud and in-person and then reflect back to the speaker in a non-critical way what she has witnessed. Individuals can sign up to participate by emailing Mann directly at email@example.com
For many years, Susan Silton has examined cultural coding and various subject positions through combinations of images, objects, installations and performative-based projects. For this show, she presents several voice-related works. Since 2006 Silton has reread a series of texts by retyping them either alone or in public, on a manual typewriter in “stencil” mode (without ink). In her video And in this first “we,” an excerpt from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath is filmed up close and personal as it is being typed by the artist. Dimple-like impressions dent the paper’s surface, generating sounds from the typing which are insistent—hammered out at full volume. Steinbeck’s nonattendance at the event is further stressed by the periodic interruption of Silton’s voice whispering a brief excerpt from Jeanette Winterson’s novel Written on the Body. For Two Andys with ‘The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action’ by Audre Lorde, Silton continues a series of works from 2013 in which inactive provenance documents torn from auction catalogs have been typed over, again in stencil mode, with texts that trigger powerful alternate readings. The artist also shares work from her multipart Whistling Project; a suite of silver-plated facial fragments titled Silver Whistles is cast from the mouths of the women’s whistling group the CROWING HENS. The troupe, which Silton formed in 2009, has performed and recorded harmonic arrangements of theme songs from male-centric films such as ROCKY. Her soundsmart critiques counter the existing values found in circles of the intolerant. Not unlike Mann’s and Porras-Kim’s retracing of historical steps, Silton pursues a course that does not seek to authenticate itself through originality or innovation, rather it is inspired by choices that are apt to wipe away the unproductive decisions and historical wrongdoings that lead to noise.
1 Noise, white noise, entropy: 1. Hypothetically, this is a tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to move
toward a state of inert uniformity. 2. Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society. 3. The movement of all
things (i.e. visual, audio, textual) toward stasis—a state of continuous static. 4. Acoustical or electrical noise with equal
intensity at all frequencies within a given band.
2 Zapotec is one of the languages spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico