24th March – 21st April 2018
Anna Schwartz Gallery
‘Impossible Composition’ gathers a new body of work reflecting Beer’s experience as artist in residence at the Sydney Opera House for the 21st Biennale of Sydney. These pieces draw on the design principles of its architect, Jørn Utzon, who saw the space ‘like a violin’. In turn, Beer sought to ‘tune’ the building, allowing Utzon’s labyrinthine structure to be played as an instrument.
The result is Impossible Composition, a major sound piece arranged for four Australian singers performing in the tips of the Sydney Opera House roof. The piece plays in an arrangement correlating with the relative height of each sail. Each singer was asked to choose their earliest musical memory, which Beer then re-orchestrated. These include a Mongolian folk song, a chant by Hildegard, a Belgian lullaby and a Christian hymn. The piece juxtaposes the physical and sonic properties of the building with the personal histories of the musicians. Impossible Composition is the only trace of a performance commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney at the Sydney Opera House.
A new series of Beer’s two-dimensional sculptures made from fractured cross-sections of violins and cellos surrounds the sound installation. These form a series of abstract portraits, including the architect Jørn Utzon alongside the individual singers with whom Beer worked closely during his residency. Each of the Recomposition works has a particular character, which reflects Beer’s interest in ‘physical cubism’, using the form of the violin to represent each of the performer’s bodies. The experience of these lyrical portraits with the evocative sound installation fills the gallery, creating an environment that encourages us to, as Beer describes, ‘hear with our eyes – or see with our ears.’
Oliver Beer (b.1985, lives and works in London and Paris) studied music before attending the Ruskin School of Fine Art, University of Oxford. Beer’s work has been the subject of many solo and group exhibitions, notably at MoMA PS1, New York; Centre Pompidou, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Palais de Tokyo and Château of Versailles, Paris; the Musée d’Art Contemporain, Lyon; WIELS, Brussels and the Istanbul Biennale. His work is in major public and private collections around the world, including: Centre Pompidou, Paris; MONA Museum of Old and New Art, Hobart; Louis Vuitton Fondation, Paris; and Zabludowicz Collection, London.
Curated by Anaïs Lellouche
The 21st Biennale of Sydney presents Beer’s new film Composition for Mouths at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and regular performances of the Resonance Project at the Sydney Opera House, from 16 March – 11 June 2018.
Oliver Beer’s Alice Falling will première in Australia in the ‘Wonderland’ exhibition at ACMI from 5 April – 7 October 2018.