Allora & Calzadilla: Concert for Elephants

Art — Produced by Michael O’Reilly

In the gallery at the Perelman Building, there is a film of a man as he walks among large and wide shelves, like in a Home Depot. But the shelves in this building are filled with taxidermied animals, seals and walruses, which truthfully, look a little old and worn out. The man is seemingly intoning in a private language system, using deep guttural sounds that are not typically heard coming out of a human mouth. He reaches a shelf with what appear to be elephant bones, and he pauses to lay hands on the bones. As he begins to touch the bones, despite the low, almost sub sonic frequency, several words of french can be made out. It is as if he is singing to the bones in what would be the tone that elephants could best register, and for a second there is the distinct impression that this man is singing through time and death to make contact with these long-dead elephants, to convey comfort or an apology or both.

This film is only the beginning of the installation A CONCERT FOR ELEPHANTS, and only one small part of the “Allora & Calzadilla: Intervals” show that runs through April 5, 2015 at both the Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA), in conjunction with the Fabric Workshop and Museum (FWM), both in Philadelphia. Jennifer Allora (Born in Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Born in Havana) are partners in life as well as art, and now based in Puerto Rico. Between the PMA and FWM locations, this is the artists’ largest solo exhibition in the United States to date, with close to a dozen existing or new works created specifically for the show itself. Through an intersection of live performance (by Relâche, The Crossing and flautist Bernadette Käfer, among others) with already existing elements (elephant bones, the oldest stone, the oldest known musical instrument, among many) this show explores the idea that the expression of music is what it means to be human. And interestingly enough, when interviewed, both Allora & Calzadilla expressed more comfort with the creation of the conceptual (bringing these elements together) than the actual creation of the music. Wanting, instead, to be the conductors of this symphony and aggregators of objects of this moving media manifestation.

Web Extra: Talking about Raptor’s Rapture – edited by Andrew Vlasak

Guillermo Calzadilla and Jennifer Allora are a visual arts duo who have been collaborating on projects since 1995. In 2012, the pair teamed up with Bernadette Käfer to bring back sounds
that have not been heard in 35,000 years.

‘Intervals’ challenges visitors to consider what happened in between
Elisabeth Perez-Luna, Executive Producer of Audio Content at WHYY, produced a radio piece on the Allora & Calzadilla: INTERVALS show which effectively complements the FRIDAY ARTS Art segment, in both tone and subject matter.

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