Falling, lovely and beautiful
22.04.18 – 15.06.18
In Falling, lovely and beautiful, sound and poetry come together in an installation that is filled with personal, historical and cultural references. French-Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch (1974, currently based in Fully, Switzerland) created a series of new works specifically for the KIOSK rooms. The video piece as well as the bronze bells and ink drawings detach objects, compositions and texts from their original contexts to make space for new interpretations, in a working method that is characteristic of Echakhch’s practice. Driven by the desire to counter certain social prejudices, contradictions and stereotypes, she isolates and questions materials that symbolize them. Moving this material onto new media or into new spaces, generates the potential for new meanings or unexpected characteristics to surface.
For this process of appropriation and re-presentation, Echakhch draws from personal memories, our shared history, and cultural heritage like literature, philosophy and music. The show’s title, for instance, refers – freely – to the lyrics to Nick Cave’s ‘As I Sat Sadly by Her Side’.
Under the central dome we find monumental bronze bells that are normally high up in a bell tower, but lie on the floor here, as if fallen, shattered to pieces. Each bell is authentic, has its particular history and once rang its particular tone. Together, by chance they form the scale Forever Mi, Forever Fa, Forever Sol and Forever Si b (2018).
Where at first the shattered bells and their muted tones powerfully emphasize the silence, from the side rooms we hear the sound of a piano interrupted and drowned out by a violent noise. For the video Partition pour Mains et Masse (2018), Echakhch staged an act simultaneously of creation and of destruction: while the pianist plays the instrument, a jackhammer crashes ever deeper into its heart. With each new blow the melody, at first so very predictable, becomes a tad more abstract, immaterial.
In a similarly deconstructive vein, Echakhch takes on several Arabic poetic texts in the series of drawings Noises and missing words, presented in the cabinet rooms. Of the original poetry, only the diacritics remain in these ‘transcripts’ in ink. The Arabic script has 28 letters that represent the consonants and long vowels; short vowels are indicated only through these diacritical marks above and below the consonants. In this particular literary context, it are normally exactly these marks that, as linking sounds, give sentences and poems their meaning. Yet here the newspaper sheets remain largely blank. What remains is only the illegible auxiliary sounds, transforming the texts into abstract drawings that hold entirely new interpretations.
In the exhibition, this work’s context is no longer the literal, original text, but the surrounding pieces. Together, they form a sort of noise that, depending on where and when you are in the rooms, can register as an abstract score of sound, a resonant silence, or an at times almost harmonic racket. Everywhere tones, sounds, keys, or signs seem to be missing. The original constructions falter, and the gaps must be filled making use of one’s imagination. From these broken, illegible and drowned-out fragments arises the new composition Falling, lovely and beautiful.