Cecilia Alemani Wants You to Bring Your Headphones to Frieze
'The best way to go to a fair is to put on headphones,' she says.
An art fair might seem like the last place you would want to experience sound art. Cramped gallery booths and constant crowds of visitors make it nearly impossible to hear anything at all, but Frieze Sounds, a subset of Frieze Projects, diligently showcases three commissioned pieces of sound art each year, despite the obstacles.
Curator Cecilia Alemani spoke to artnet News about the sound commissions, and pointed out that an escapist soundtrack might be just what an exhausted fairgoer needs.
“Sometimes, the best way to go to a fair is to put on headphones, and to be absorbed in your own thoughts,” she says, sitting in the reading room next to three pairs of headphones attached the wall for visitors.
But for those who don’t want to stand still to hear the sounds, Alemani encourages visitors to download the works from Frieze’s website.
This year’s sounds include a nearly 30-minute long ambient soundscape by Giorgio Andreotta Calò and experimental sound project MADRIEMA; a futuristic work by collective GCC that samples marketing copy from antidepressant ads, airline companies, and the Quran; and a fictional dialogue between a therapist and Donald Trump by Liz Magic Laser.
“When we announced that the fair was going to be at Randall’s Island, nobody had any clue where that even was. So we decided to create a platform for sound works, in the hopes that our visitors would download the files, and they could keep them company on the boat or long taxi drive to the fair. I think the artists were really interested in accompanying the viewers on their journey,” she recounts.
But if you leave your headphones at home, you can always flash your VIP card and enjoy the sounds from inside another mode of transportation—the cars in the BMW lounge.
“It’s a challenge to exhibit sound art, and of course, this isn’t the ideal situation. But it’s hard for a museum, too,” she says. “The good thing about being sponsored by BMW is that the stereo system is really good.”
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