Music for Museums

Music for Museums is a season of experimental performances at the Whitechapel Gallery, London (17 September – 29 November 2015), presenting work at the intersection of visual arts and music.

Through a series of live performances of key compositions, by both ‘pioneers’ and ‘contemporaries’, Music for Museums seeks to examine the relationship between contemporary art and experimental music today, whilst rooting current developments in the radical experiments of the past fifty years. The retrospective element will feature historic works originally conceived for, or performed in, gallery spaces, while the contemporary strand will focus on artist musicians, and their collaborators. Sound interventions in the public areas of the gallery, along with a rolling programme of artists’ film and video, will accompany the live events, reflecting upon this cross-art form dialogue and its institutional frame.

For the generation of the 1960s, the museum offered an alternative to the concert hall, serving as a site of experimentation and collaboration between visual and performing artists, and bringing their work to a new and receptive audience. The revolutionary developments of experimental music over the ensuing fifty years closely parallel the shift in visual arts (from a modernist avant-garde to the expanded field of contemporary art), questioning the traditional unity of composition, performance and reception, and opening up a plethora of new possibilities for sound, and for ways of listening. The radical reinventions of Fluxus, Minimalism and the subsequent Sound Art movement were achieved through a wide range of methods, including processes of chance, improvisation, participation, context-led installation, repetition, electronic manipulation and, latterly, through the application of computers and new technologies. In general this trajectory could be described as a shift away from the authorship of the artist/composer towards a more open, less determined relationship to sound. As John Cage said, experiment is “an act the outcome of which is unknown.”

The season will be structured around fortnightly performances, with a different area of practice explored every two weeks. The programme will focus on a number of key concerns and critical ideas, under the broad thematics of Fluxus, The Voice, Electronica, Systems, Machines and Sonic Spaces.


2015 Programme

Guest Curator, Tom Trevor


17 September   Apartment House plays Cage, Brecht, Knowles, Maciunas, Paik and more

19 September   David Toop, Rie Nakajima and Angharad Davies play Mieko Shiomi


1 October         Gavin Bryars with Etel Adnan

3 October         Paul Abbott and Cara Tolmie / Mikhail Karikis


15 October       Florian Hecker

17 October      Hassan Khan


29 October       Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai (Cyclo.)

31 October       Oliver Coates plays Hanne Darboven


12 November   Mark Fell

14 November   Dominic Murcott plays Conlon Nancarrow


26 November   Thurston Moore

28 November   Rhys Chatham



17 September – 29 November 2015: lobby, bookshop, café, bathroom, gallery, office

Support Structure, with Yan Jun, 718, Isan, Isambard Khroustaliov, Zafka


Film programme

A programme of film screenings focuses on the dynamic between moving image and music with works by Cory Arcangel, Sonia Boyce & Ain Bailey, Beatrice Gibson, Ken Jacobs, Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow, Tony Oursler, Nam June Paik, Jayne Parker, Elizabeth Price and others.

== Music for Museums at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, is conceived by Guest Curator, Tom Trevor ==


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