Anri Sala’s Magic Drums Draw Crowds at Marian Goodman’s Frieze Booth

The artist's sound-based installation is truly clever.

Anri Sala Bridges in the Doldrums (2016). Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Standing out among the abundance of impressive booths, artworks, and installations at Frieze New York is always a challenge. This year, Marian Goodman Gallery has a hit with a clever sound-based installation by the Albanian video artist Anri Sala.

The work featured four snare drums, modified by the artist into loudspeakers, as well as two additional concealed speakers and a subwoofer.

The seven-channel setup played a musical arrangement of 74 “song bridges” by the artist’s collaborator, musician André Vida. A “bridge,” senior director Emily-Jane Kirwan explained,  refers to the transitional phase of a piece of music that links the main chorus to the ending, and typically differs in rhythm and tempo to set it apart from the primary part of the composition.

Marian Goodman. Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Anri Sala at Marian Goodman. Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

The neat trick is that Sala has modified the original sounds to emit a very low frequency in order to make the drumsticks attached to each of the drum/loudspeakers vibrate enough to strike the surface. The effect is to make it appear as if the drums were playing themselves automatically.

“Each drum plays a part of the musical composition,” Kirwan said. “The drumsticks play in response to the vibrations of the speakers.”

The installation on view at Goodman’s booth already has institutional provenance, having been on view at the Instituto Moreira Salles in Rio de Janeiro last year. The same magic drum-set theme was a part of his career retrospective at the New Museum in 2016.

For New York-based readers intrigued by Sala’s proposition, the artist will be speaking on a Frieze Talks panel with fellow artists Tania Bruguera and Jeanne van Heeswijk, in a talk moderated by Shuddhabrata Sengupta, on Saturday.

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