GOINGS ON ABOUT TOWN: “Sounds Lasting and Leaving”

Johanna Fateman, The New Yorker

Taking its title from an intriguing note about “musical sculpture” from Marcel Duchamp, this century-spanning exhibition of sound works (broadly defined) establishes a surprising lineage of artists who have explored overlaps of the aural and the optical. Marina Abramović provides a dramatic start with her black-and-white film “Freeing the Voice,” from 1975, which documents a performance in which she wailed until her vocal cords gave out. A simple Calder mobile, from 1940, descriptively titled “Red Disc and Gong,” makes a subtler statement—its horizontally suspended mallet promises to, eventually, gently strike a piece of sheet metal. Also on view are more recent works by contemporary artists. Derrick Adams and Philippe Treuille draw on Calder’s sonic experiments with the composer Edgard Varèse, pairing an original score with poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Jennie C. Jones’s collage “Slowly in a Silent Way, Caged,” from 2010, combines pieces by Miles Davis and John Cage, similarly breathing new life into past experiments.