23 SEP 2023 | 4pm
23 set blackout
Fotografia: Sofia Matos Silva

Jennifer Allora (1974, USA) and Guillermo Calzadilla (1971, Cuba) are a collaborative duo of visual artists who live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Through a research-based approach, their works trace intersections of history, material culture, ecology, and politics, using a multiplicity of artistic media that include performance, sculpture, sound, video, and photography.

Entelechy highlights a series of sculpture-performance based works that are central to Allora & Calzadilla’s trajectory, such as Hope Hippo (2005), Stop, Repair, prepare: Variations on ‘Ode to Joy’ for a Prepared Piano (2008), Lifespan (2014) and Entelechy (2020), which will be regularly staged throughout the course of the exhibition in collaboration with local musicians and performers.

A relic from a power transformer explosion in Puerto Rico—which led to an island-wide blackout in 2016—is reimagined as a tuning device. The production of a vocal-acoustic event excavates, in musical form, the flows, accumulations, overages, and eventual breakdown of the power grid. Fragments of ceramic insulators and transformer coils from the Puerto Rico Electrical Authority (PREPA), together in an amorphous mass of electrically charged copper, are assembled into a monstrous power station of sorts. The equation between conductivity and resistance is uncertain and leaves the possibility of either transmission or breakdown open. This sculptural assemblage is the locus of a vocal performance in which the event of an electrical blackout functions as a compositional directive. Working for the third time with renowned American composer David Lang, the artists conceived a sonorous matrix whose full expression unfolds over the course of the entire exhibition and spans through human and mechanical sources. The original score uses a quotation by Benjamin Franklin and, while keeping the words themselves imperceptible, transforms it into a controlling mechanism for the music itself. The quote reads: “In going on with these Experiments, how many pretty systems do we build, which we soon find ourselves oblig’d to destroy! If there is no other Use discover’d of Electricity, this, however, is something considerable, that it may help to make a vain Man humble.”

23 set blackout

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