6 p.m. & 8:30 p.m. at Landeszeughaus, Herrengasse 16, Free admission
with Alexander Iezzi, Rebecca Lane, Jie Ren Lim, Adam Sinclaire
HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark is pleased to present a remarkable site-specific production within a newly initiated performance series, Give Rise To, which this year will address the resources and different population groups in the city of Graz from various perspectives. The Belgian artist Billy Bultheel presents the performance UNTER KAMMERMUSIK (Under Chamber Music) in collaboration with the Argentinian artist Viviana Abelson.
Billy Bultheel (*1987 Brussels, lives in Berlin) uses architectural fragments and infrastructures in his performances in order to occupy different spaces. Whether on the roof of a dwelling or in a church, Bultheel’s collaborative works always provoke a productive tension with the place where they are presented. A key aspect of the artist’s practice is his long-term exploration of polytonic Baroque music, which he combines with elements of noise, electronic music and metal.
Argentinian artist Viviana Abelson (*1985 Buenos Aires, lives in Berlin) makes objects, sculptures, and musical instruments. Her practice focuses on exploring physicality, machines, and materials such as steel, rubber, and leather whose physical and alchemical potential she examines. By cutting and rearranging these materials, forces are made visible that the artist uses to process those substances. The works that are made in this way are characterized by a narrative quality that attempts to depict the manipulation and the pressure that economics and politics exert on the social body. Most recently, Abelson has worked on making instruments, an example being car tires covered in leather to produce percussion instruments.
UNTER KAMMERMUSIK is the second chapter within a newly designed performance series. The first chapter, Unter, will be performed in the Schinkel Pavillon in Berlin, where it will be presented a few days prior to the Graz performance. For the second part commissioned for HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark, a historical building in the city of Graz, the Landeszeughaus, will be used as a temporary performance venue.
With more than 32,000 items, including harnesses and firearms, the Landeszeughaus holds the largest surviving modern-age arsenal in the world. Today, this historically significant building bears witness to the region’s turbulent history. Built between 1642 and 1647, the weaponry held here served to defend against the attacks from the expanding Ottoman Empire, which came close up to Graz and represented a direct threat, so that the Steiermark became a region with key military significance. The arsenal changed over the years, and today it is open to the public, showing the historical system for presenting and storing various weapons and also the important significance of this building in the history of the region.
For UNTER KAMMERMUSIK, Bultheel and three other performers use new instruments made by Abelson to enact a contemporary version of a chamber music concert. The choice of this special form of concert was made in connection with reflection on the symbolic meaning of the architecture of the Landeszeughaus. The development of chamber music is connected to the rise of the “music room.” From the early modern age, the houses of the affluent middle-class elite began to include these rooms devoted to music, where concerts could take place in intimate spaces. The architectural design, size, and decoration of these music rooms became indicators of the wealth of their owners, so that a very specific economic value was inscribed within the immaterial essence of music. Gradually, the presentation of instruments became more important than any actual music played. Although the typical designs of music rooms and arsenals are not comparable, Bultheel sees both as “historical storerooms of power and capital.”
This conceptual contrast and connection between architecture, infrastructure, and economy via the means provided by music and performance is at the heart of Bultheel’s performance. UNTER KAMMERMUSIK is one of a number of projects in which Bultheel addresses the links between war and music. Thanks to technological developments for pipes, valves, and bells, for example, it became possible to enter into territories that were beyond the range of human vision. In our present day, past wars are depicted mostly by means of visual material such as maps.
By composing immersive musical scores and experimental soundscapes, Bultheel reanimates the bodies that originally served as the vehicles of war. In UNTER KAMMERMUSIK, he uses the bodies of the performers to achieve this, letting them move through the narrow and dark corridors of the historical building as they play their instruments, creating an intimate acoustic environment for reflection about vulnerability and resilience, darkness and light, the past and the present.
Curated by Cathrin Mayer
Billy Bultheel and Viviana Abelson
12. 11. – 13. 11. 2021
Performance series part 1, in the frame of DISAPPEARING BERLIN 2021
Wellenbad am Spreewaldplatz, Berlin
Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin
began his collaboration with artist Anne Imhof in 2013 and became an integral part of her group of close collaborators, beginning with her early works School of the Seven Bells, Parade, Deal, Rage, which have been shown worldwide in museums such as PS1, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Liste Basel, Basel.
In 2016, Bultheel wrote the music for Imhof’s wildly acclaimed opera ANGST, which was performed at Kunsthalle Basel, Basel; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin; and MAC Montréal, Montréal. In 2017, at the invitation of Susanne Pfeffer, Bultheel composed and produced the music for Imhof’s performance FAUST for the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which won the Golden Lion for Best National Participation. In 2018, Bultheel brings together his practices in performance and composition in large-scale performance installations. He transforms entire architectural complexes into musical instruments and uses performance to activate these instruments with choreographed movement. Recent works include The Minutes of Olomouc (2020), When Doves Cry (2019), and Signs of Invasion (2018), the latter of which took place at the Schinkel Pavilion in Berlin.
first studied at the Buenos Aires University, before moving to the University of the Arts in Berlin (Contemporary Photography Class) and then to the Hochschule für Bildende Künste-Städelschule in Frankfurt am Main. Her installations and sculptures are characterized by contrasts. Rigid forms and elastic materials enter into tension-filled connections. The works address the invisible, power-exerting forces that affect us in a larger social context.
The Argentine has had exhibitions at Nassauischer Kunstverein, Wiesbaden; Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt am Main; Cine Olido, São Paulo; Benaki Museum, Athens; Museu d’Art de Cerdanvola, LOOp Top 10, Barcelona.
- The Wire, "Billy Bultheel & Viviana Abelson: Unter Kammermusik", Emily Bick Print, 12.1.2022, PDF (1 MB)
- PW-Magazine, "Billy Bultheel: Music Strikes an Area not a Point", Steph Holl-Trieu Online, 2.2.2022
- Kleine Zeitung, "Musik für die Rüstkammer", MG Print, 19.11.2021, PDF (768 KB)
- Contemporary Art Library, Los Angeles Online
- Pressetext UNTER KAMMERMUSIK PDF (88 KB)
- Press text UNTER KAMMERMUSIK PDF (83 KB)
- Invitation card UNTER KAMMERMUSIK PDF (1 MB)