A Red Show In A, 2016
WhiteBox Gallery, NYC
Curated by Juan Puntes and Lara Pan
As part of Armory Arts Week
Jean Pierre Müller, together with Robert Wyatt, one of music’s greatest shamans, has expanded and deepened the rich material used for their 7x7-Red-A sound altarpiece.
A Red Show in A and its recreation of the Alhambra for modern times carry’s a deep reflection that resonates particularly in these times of confrontation.
This total artwork was conceived and created in the artist’s studio in Molenbeek, that part of Brussels which has risen to sudden fame as a so-called world-basis for Islamist terrorists. Passing through seven gates amongst which a Gate of the Crusaders, a Gate of Jihad, a Gate of Zion and a Gate of Harmony, hearing sounds, seeing lights and listening to Robert Wyatt’s talking of the immense heritage of the Alhambra and Al-Andalus, the visitor is invited to reflect on notions like expulsion, coexistence, religion and beauty. He can also listen to a splendid composition in A, Robert Wyatt last-ever composition, his ultimate legacy.
It is a nostalgic salute to Al-Andalus, when Spain was under Moorish rule and religions coexisted peacefully (at least, this is the way one can dream of it today, when everything concurs to convince us we’re at war with the others). The most powerful symbol of this period is the Alhambra palace in Granada. This golden age ended in 1492 with the Alhambra Decree and the expulsion of all the Jews from Spain. Al-Hamra means the Red one, in Arabic...
Three symbols become one
Müller has adapted Malevich’s emblematic paintings of the Black Square,
the Black Circle and the Black Cross
into a Red Star of David, a Red Crescent and a Red Cross.
A fourth symbol image mixes the cross, the star of David and the crescent into a powerful syncretic symbol.
This is the start of a new reflection on hybridity, coexistence, expulsion… and the power of symbols.
The A/7x7 interactive sound sculpture
7x7 is seven interactive sound sculptures, silk-screen-printed in an edition of seven each. Music emerges from the picture as the viewer approaches the artwork and disappears as he goes away (speakers are hidden in the structure). Each work takes the shape of one letter corresponding to a note (A to G) and has a dominant colour corresponding to one of the colours of the rainbow. Each “letter” is linked to a chakra, day of the week and the planet and deity to which this day is associated.
Seven of the world’s greatest musicians have composed an original music for 7x7, in response to themes linked to the artwork. Each composition is in the corresponding key - this means here that the music for A is in the key of A...
A is the first of the interactive seven sound sculptures of 7x7.
Its soundtrack was composed by Robert Wyatt, it is his ultimate legacy.
A, first note of the scale
Red, first colour of the rainbow
Monday, first day of the week, day of the Moon
Diana, goddess of the Moon
Muladhara, first chakra
La Bocca della Verità
Another major interactive work created for this show is a new version of the famous Roman Bocca della Verità (Mouth of Truth), bearing Robert Wyatt’s face with an open mouth. When the viewer puts his hand in Robert’s mouth, he/she will hear Robert telling the amazing story of the Alhambra and the legacy of Al- Andalous (Spain under Moorish Rule) to humanity.
The Seven Gates
The 7x7-Red-A sound altarpiece is housed in a temple with meaningful columns, patterns and gates. There are of course seven gates. To reach the Bocca Della Verità, we have to walk through four of them : the Gate of the Crusaders, the Gate of Jihad, the Gate of Zion and the Gate of Harmony.
The three other gates (including the Gate of the Moon) are assembled in our Red Oratorio, a meditative environment, with voices by Robert Wyatt, Sean O’Hagan and a prayer for peace sung by Terry Riley, mixed with Jewish, Muslim and Christians chants merged together.
With the crusaders’ cross at its centre, an installation of nine light boxes is on display. Here, the shape of some of the most symbolic bomber planes (from the kamikaze Japanese Zero to the Boeing 767 which crashed on the Twin Towers, from the V1 Flying bomb to the modern drone) give a powerful echo to the shape of the cross, and the purpose of the crusades.
Inspired by the amazing interiors of the Alhambra, Muller has created a series of patterns recycling some of the show’s symbols and elements.