September 12, 2011 - Pinakothek der Moderne - Olaf Nicolai’s Escalier du Chant
September 12, 2011

Olaf Nicolai’s Escalier du Chant

Olaf Nicolai
Escalier du Chant

12 performances with songs by Tony Conrad, Georg Friedrich Haas, Georg Katzer, Liza Lim, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Enno Poppe, Rolf Riehm, James Saunders, Rebecca Saunders, Elliott Sharp, Mika Vainio, Jennifer Walshe

Pinakothek der Moderne
Barer Straße 40
80333 Munich

Next performance: Sunday, September 25, 12.00–18.00:
with songs by Georg Katzer, Liza Lim, James Saunders and Elliott Sharp

15.00 Main stairs: “Nicht ein politisches Lied machen, sondern ein Lied politisch” (“Not to make a political song, but a song political”)
Panel with Georg Katzer, Elliott Sharp, Christine Fischer, Olaf Nicolai
Presenter: Bernd Künzig

Performances – All dates of Escalier du Chant:
25.09. | 30.10. | 27.11. | 18.12.

Singers: Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart

Since 1997, Olaf Nicolai has developed a wide variety of interdisciplinary projects through his examination of body, time and space. His most recent work, “Escalier du Chant”, is a sound installation made especially for the sweeping staircase in the Pinakothek der Moderne. At its centre is the human voice—with both its sensual power of expression and its political dimension.

Olaf Nicolai has invited twelve international composers to write songs about topical political events throughout the current year—events that at the present time are just as unforeseeable as the compositions themselves. Premieres of these songs will be performed a capella on the staircase in the Pinakothek der Moderne on twelve Sundays. There are no specific times for the performances as the songs will be repeated at varying intervals several times throughout the day. They will be sung by the Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart.

Olaf Nicolai’s work will transform the staircase in the Pinakothek der Moderne into a stage on which visitors find that they are the actors. “My work has to do with the meaning of sound—as does the title of the work: when saying the French title ‘Escalier du Chant’ out loud, there is an allusion to Marcel Duchamp. His work ‘Nude Descending a Staircase’ painted 100 years ago, radically extended the traditional concept of the static picture into the visual experience of motion. Duchamp′s painting renders time visible. My work also combines a staircase with a temporal experience.”

Programme for Sunday, September 25, 2011, 12.00–18.00:

The premier of Liza Lim’s trilogy “3 Angels” brings together a number of texts: two excerpts from the Writing Notebooks by French feminist writer Hélène Cixous and some words reportedly spoken by Neda Agha-Soltan, a young woman killed in the streets of Tehran during the Iranian election protests of 2009, whose name means ‘voice’ and who was subsequently dubbed ‘The Angel of Freedom.’

Georg Katzer’s relationship with the political song is inseparable from his experiences in the GDR, where political praise singers turned songs for the masses into profitable creativity, their purpose being control over political opinions. He poses the question how politically engaged music reaches the listener not only in a physical sense, but also by infiltrating his consciousness.

The self-organised protests against the new British government’s education spending cuts form the structural principle behind James Saunders’ composition “distribution study #9″.

EllElliott Sharp’s new song “Judgement” deals with America today and the extreme Christian right-wing, which works hand-in-hand with the “Tea Party” to obfuscate issues, divide the population, promote ignorance and attack women’s reproductive rights. To the composer they function as the front-line propangandists in a class war pitting the ultra-rich against the general populace.

As an addition to Escalier du Chant the supporting programme Talks and Lectures invites composers as well as a range of major thinkers in the fields of sound studies, cultural science and media theory to explore and reflect upon the central themes of the project.

“Nicht ein politisches Lied machen, sondern ein Lied politisch” (“Not to make a political song, but a song political”): The third session of Talks and Lectures focuses on the specific relationship between the human body, the voice, their role in the field of aesthetics and how this relation can articulate a political dimension. Starting with the tradition of the political song and its references for contemporary music the discussion will widen to the question of sound as a political message itself and its options and/or limits posed by such a perspective.

Guests are the composers Georg Katzer and Elliott Sharp as well as Christine Fischer (Management Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart) and Olaf Nicolai. Presenter: Bernd Künzig (Music editor SWR 2).

Curator: Bernhart Schwenk

Tine Nehler
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Phone: + 49 89 23805-1321 | Fax: + 49 89 23805-125
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Olaf Nicolai's Escalier du Chant
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