Arseny Avraamov’s Symphony of Sirens (1919–1923) is a sonic legend, a gigantic public event that was impossible to record or to transmit. Text scores and some articles by its creator—an eccentric author, composer, researcher, and inventor—are all that remain. Symphony of Sirens is a beautified translation, the original title, Symphony of Factory Horns, refers to the steam powered timekeepers of the modern industrial age. Fascinated by the noises of the future, Avraamov employed all of the “modern” sounds available to him—military boats, artillery, guns, locomotives, and hydroplanes—which transformed entire cities into enormous musical instruments or gigantic orchestras conducted by Avraamov from telegraph poles. The symphony was conceived to celebrate the 1917 October Revolution, passionately producing as much “modern” sound as possible.
Today, we choose to listen. Almost one hundred years later, O+A reflects upon Avraamov’s sounds of the future, transformed into the present by listening to our machine-dominated soundscapes and tuning them. Interested in the history of noise and silence as part of their practice, the artists research the sonic sites of Thessaloniki and its noise and soundscapes. Their Symphony of Resonances consists of three parts.
Friday July 14, 2017 Symphony of Resonances by O+A 4–10 pm, Rotunda and Palace of Galerius
Prelude, Tuning the Ruins Taking place in Navarino Square, where Roman ruins are tightly surrounded by densely packed 1960s and 1970s apartment blocks, A+O use this built environment as their “resonating chamber,” activating the ruins of the Palace of Galerius with the sounds of today’s Thessaloniki, reduced to harmonic proportions through their “tuning tube.” We listen to harmonically tuned “modern” noises—sound waves from traffic, jets, motorcycles, the entire swarm of activity produced by large cities today. Sound – Thomas Koch Free entrance. Capacity is limited; please arrive early. Requiem for the Extraction Economy Performance for soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and bass soloists, and the eight-channel Orchestra of Cities 9 pm, Rotunda of Galerius
The Rotunda is one of a few buildings that remained intact after Thessaloniki was destroyed by fire in 1917. Having been used as a mausoleum, a church, and a mosque, it is ideally suited for the resonance of the human voice—chanting or in song. The scale of four perfectly matched unamplified human voices within this space will be in a dramatic struggle with the recorded resonances of the city. Singers – Sarah Chalfy – soprano, Hai-Ting Chinn – mezzo-soprano, Christopher Sokolowski – tenor, Mark Sans Uhleman – bass. Sound – Mark Fuller Orchestra of Cities – Sam Auinger, Conductor – Bruce Odland Free entrance. Capacity is limited; please arrive early. July 15–September 17, 2017 Coda by O+A State Museum of Contemporary Art
Coda will be played at the State Museum of Contemporary Art, which holds the Costakis Collection of works from the Russian avant-garde, one of the most remarkable examples of the migration of modernism. Assembled by George Costakis at a time when avant-garde was outlawed in Russia, the collection includes rare archival material on musical experiments of the avant-garde artists. O+A’s Coda will resonate in museum’s space until September 17, the closing date of documenta 14 in Kassel. About O+A (Bruce Odland / Sam Auinger) O+A have been listening to and recording the sounds of modernity in cities around the world for thirty years. They believe that we will not understand ourselves until we understand our noise. In the 1990s they began using “tuning tubes” to transform city noise into harmony, and find musical information in the sounds of daily life. They soon realized that they were listening to the music of the human hive, the rhythms of rush hours, the pulse of the economy.
Curated by Elena Sorokina and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
Organization documenta 14 | City of Thessaloniki – Department of Culture and Tourism | State Museum of Contemporary Art | Artecitya by Goethe-Institut Thessaloniki | Artecitya by Helexpo | ArtBOX Creative Arts Management
Support General Directorate of Antiquities and Cultural Heritage – Ephorate of Antiquities, Thessaloniki | Bundeskanzleramt Österreich | Kulturland Oberösterreich | Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation (MAAF) | Creative Europe program from the European Commission