Sriwhana Spong
The Score
Ian Potter Museum, Melbourne
1 August – 5 November 2017

Curated by Jacqueline Doughty

A musical score is a form of translation. It transcribes sound into drawing, by representing the aural complexities of pitch, rhythm and tempo as visual symbols.

The Score expands upon this spirit of transformation to ask, if music can be represented by notes on a staff, why not by colours? If a song can be performed by the voice, why not with silent hand gestures? And how would dance based upon the syllables of a poem, or music based upon the shape of a leaf manifest?

In this international group exhibition, scores and notation are considered as a starting point to explore the current cross-disciplinary trend in contemporary art, which has seen dance, music and vocal performance increasingly incorporated into visual artworks. The Score presents a range of contemporary and historical artworks that shift between one discipline to another. Musical notation becomes a visual metaphor for a moment of translation between forms – the point where creative leaps and conceptual shifts spark new possibilities.

Spanning all three floors of the Potter, the exhibition will include examples of music and dance notation, from Medieval manuscripts through to graphic notation of the 1960s, alongside artworks and performances. The colour music experiments of Modernist abstract painters such as Roy de Maistre and Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack will inform a more recent series of work John Nixon, whose paintings will be ‘played’ in the gallery by a musical ensemble. Influential composer John Cage’s movable scores made of Plexiglas and acetate will sit alongside drawings by Marco Fusinato, which compress Cage’s Water Music score into one moment. Performance videos by Yuki Kihara and Christine Sun Kim & Thomas Mader explore the communicative potential of hand gestures. Sriwhana Spong translates a diary text by ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky into choreography, while Nathan Gray transforms the composer Cornelius Cardew’s epic graphic score Treatise into sculpture.

A performance program will accompany the exhibition, including a presentation of US artist Charles Gaines’ chamber opera Sound Text, a vocal and music score derived from political manifestoes; and Michaela Gleave’s Galaxy of Suns, a 36-part choir performance based upon the location of the stars.

Artists and performers include: John Cage, Roy de Maistre, Fayen d’Evie, Marco Fusinato, Charles Gaines, Michaela Gleave, Agatha Gothe-Snape, Nathan Gray, Helen Grogan, Ludwig Hirschfeld Mack, Yuki Kihara, Shelley Lasica, Dylan Martorell, Angelica Mesiti, John Nixon, Sandra Parker, Mia Salsjö, Charlie Sofo, Sriwhana Spong, Christine Sun Kim & Thomas Mader, Danae Valenza.