Date(s) - 05/19/2016
6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
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This Memorial Day Weekend 2016 Marfa Live Arts and Fieldwork: Marfa will present Marfa Sounding—a series of site-specific performances, sound installations, and conversations exploring the work of musicians and artists Alvin Lucier and Charles Curtis curated by Jennifer Burris. In the month leading up to the concerts, Marfa Live Arts, CineMarfa, and The Lumberyard will host a free, public screening of Viola Rusche and Hauke Harder’s feature-length documentary NO IDEAS BUT IN THINGS – The Composer Alvin Lucier (2014) offering an introduction to Lucier’s pioneering works in electronic music.
“No ideas but in things,” is one of Lucier’s favorite quotes by American poet William Carlos Williams when he is asked about his artistic attitude. It also reflects the filmmakers’ intention to create a portrait of Lucier that is primarily based on his work. Inspired by the motto “Don’t ask me what I mean, ask me what I’ve made” this documentary accompanies the American composer on concert travels to The Hague (Netherlands) and Zug (Switzerland). During interviews at at his home in Middletown, Connecticut, Lucier offers rare insights into the beginnings of his pioneering works, his time as a member of the Sonic Arts Union, his relations with John Cage and David Tudor, as well as his teaching practice at Wesleyan University. The authors invite Lucier to explain and comment on his œuvre – from his early live electronics performances up to the premiere of his ensemble piece Panorama 2 in 2011. One of Lucier’s key works, “I am sitting in a room” (1969), is introduced as a central structuring device in the film.
“I am sitting in a room” is Lucier’s best-known composition. The stunning formal stringency in the acoustical exploration of the specific resonances of a room makes it one of the “classical” pieces of 20th-century art and a prototype of process-based music. In one of the film’s interviews, Lucier describes in detail how he got the idea for the piece and realized it for the first time. The touch of self-irony in the last lines of the text, where Lucier alludes to his own stuttering – “I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have” – conveys the originality that stands out in so many of Lucier’s pieces.
Lucier will perform “I am sitting in a room” in Marfa on Saturday, May 28 at the Crowley Theater along with other works by Lucier performed by cellist Charles Curtis.