Undergraduate musical ensemble Black is the Color will perform on Thursday in the Yale University Art Gallery’s “Everything is Dada” exhibition.
As part of the YUAG’s “Gallery+” programming, the group — formed by Gideon Broshy ’17, Dominic Coles ’16, Hans Bilger ’16, Eli Brown ’17 and Adrian Lin ’18 — will present a concert titled “With Hidden Noise.” Taking the form of a structured improvisation — in which the musicians scattered throughout the galleries will communicate solely through sound, musically responding to one another — the performance hopes to convey Dada’s performative origins in step with the show’s celebration of the movement’s centennial, explained Molleen Theodore, the gallery’s associate curator of programs.
“As we thought about programming for this exhibition, it was important to me that we convey the inherently performative nature of Dada, which began as a series of performances at the Cabaret Voltaire [in Zurich],” Theodore said. “We wanted to explore the different performative modes that are available to us here, and to reflect something of the spirit of the time.”
Theodore explained that the concert is meant to be “ambulatory” in nature, and expressed hope that visitors would move through the gallery’s spaces, sampling the variety of sonic experiences they provide.
In particular, Theodore said she hopes that concert attendees might consider the musical performance in relation to the objects on display.
“I think one experiences artwork in a different way when there is music in the space,” Theodore noted. “To view a painting and hear music [at the same time] changes the experience of viewing the painting, and I believe that will be the case here.”
Broshy said the title of the group’s performance is taken from French-American Dadaist Marcel Duchamp’s eponymous work.
Beyond the title, Broshy said, the concept for the piece was inspired by one of Duchamp’s readymades, which incorporated sound.
“To make the original ‘With Hidden Noise,’ Duchamp placed a ball of nautical twine between two brass plates. He asked Walter Arensberg, his friend and patron, to place an unknown object inside the ball, and then clamped the plates shut with four long screws,” Broshy explained. “The hidden object — the identity of which Duchamp asked Arensberg to never reveal, and which remains unknown — makes an inscrutable rattling sound.”
Collaborations such as Thursday’s concert, which ask performers to “respond to the collection” and make their own works in the gallery’s spaces, represent an important element of the YUAG’s broader educational vision, Theodore noted.
“This performance is part of our interest in cross-disciplinary programming and student involvement. We think about art and visitors, with an interest in fostering public engagement,” Theodore said.