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Sound Zero

Opening: 07.09.2006
Duration: 08.09.2006 - 07.01.2007
Curator: Valerio Dehò

There was a season in contemporary culture when both art and music lived on the same wavelength. American and European pop art meant not just a point where trends merged, but a moment when a horizontal and authentically popular way of expression was born. Pop music and pop art picked up the need felt previously by avant garde to establish a connection with the real world, but no longer on a cultured, individual plane: on a universal and easily accessed level, whether in the producing or the consuming. This also marked an epoch-making rift between generations: for the second world war had created a void, filled by Informal in the art world, but always in an introspective, psychologically oriented dimension.

Much musical exploration has stemmed from contemporary and concrete electronic music, spread around the world by 1960s pop-rock groups. One thinks of superimposed noises running parallel with or in counterpoint to the musical line. In visual art the use of consumer icons and of techniques available to all, like collage or mechanical reproduction, created an art utopia for everyone. Over the same years, graphic design employed a range of styles on record sleves, but also on teenage clothing, which found its way throughout society. The new dimension marked a step beyond avant garde by the dissemination it gave to its many ideas and contents, using consumer and show-business means. Music became a vehicle for putting across innovative ideas that were once reserved for the intellectual elite.

The relations between art and music from the Sixties to today have tended to follow a largely consistent course. Among present-day artists one commonly finds similar modes of expression, or overlapping between one expressive form and another. Not only video art but painting too has been influenced by graphic design and the trappings of the musical scene. There begins to be total osmosis between the two disciplines, though often they follow separate commercial and marketing paths.

Sound Zero recalls the radical change that took place in the early Sixties, the consequences of which are still alive and flourishing. Art only became truly popular when it found new means of communication, via a cultured new generation that was nonetheless determined to bring their ideas out onto the street, coming to meet the public, and hence using the tools of mass communication like advertising design work, posters, magazines, T-shirts and record sleeves. We now find DJs putting on full-scale happenings where music combines with visual contents as striking and substantial as the music itself. Yet again it is youth culture that has bridged the gaps and the misgivings: it has managed to cross the generation barriers and create new languages.

The exhibition will involve a number of events:

  1. Kunsthaus: Exhibition of works from Pop Art (Warhol, Lichtenstein, Thibaud, Pascali, Schifano, Arroyo, Rotella, Manai, Koons) to Techno ( Barney, Migliore, Vascellari, Semeria,… )
  2. Kunsthaus  Exhibition of record sleeves, graphic design, posters
  3. Kunsthaus  Site specific implemented installations (Fera, Neuhaus, Barclay)
  4. Kunsthaus  Lecture and debate with projection of music sequences and exhibitions on film. Artists and musicians meet to swap experience on their area’s confines and cross-references: many musicians paint, many painters and artists make music. Things they have in common, what differences emerge, and what sources of research and inspiration have a common origin.
  5.  Place to be decided: music review with youth groups and young musicians who are also practising artists, face to face with DJs
  6. Women’s Museum: exhibition of 1960s clothes, costumes and objects