Allora & Calzadilla Bring Verbal Spats to Gladstone

The artistic duo bring rocks and young choristers to Chelsea.


If you drop in at Gladstone Gallery at the right time, these are some of the lines you’ll hear: “Listen you little dot on this world,” “If only you’d use your brains,” and “I’ll use small words so that you’ll be sure to understand, you warthog-faced buffoon.”

The lines are sung by honey-voiced young male vocalists from local choirs who have been enlisted by artist duo Allora & Calzadilla for their current show, “Fault Lines,” at Gladstone. As you’ve rightly guessed from the adversarial tone of the lyrics, the show is partly about verbal conflict. Two boys re-enact through song some historical and cultural riffs from Cicero to the film The Princess Bride while standing on or walking around large rocks that have been placed within the gallery, and which serve as sculpture, choral risers, and set pieces. As per a statement by the artists, they get their “formal vocabulary” from geological faults and their solidified mass has created a “rupture in geological time.”

Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla are known for creating this kind of hybrid work that combines sculpture and performance. For their installation in the US Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, the team presented several works, including Track and Field (2011), which had Olympic Decathlon gold medalist Dan O’Brien walking on a treadmill atop a war tank and Body in Flight (Delta) (2011), for which a female gymnast used full-scale wooden replicas of business class airline seats as balance beams.

Performances of the enchanting singing will happen every hour on the hour from 1–5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday with an extra performance at 5:30 p.m., and from 12:30-5:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The show runs through October 11.

“Fault Lines” runs at Gladstone Gallery through October 11.

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