As a foretaste of the upcoming Seattle Art Fair, Seattle Art Museum is currently hosting a series of talks by contemporary artists about their practice. The first one took place this week.
During the first phase, visitors to the Science Museum last summer were invited to participate by “sorting and documenting of one month’s worth of rubbish generated by the Science Museum’s visitors, staff, contractors, and exhibition projects to create a growing visual archive of the things we throw away from day to day… With a focus on sustainability and reuse, The Rubbish Collection confronts the materiality of rubbish and highlights that the things we throw away do not disappear but are transformed.”
Says the versatile British artist Sofaer: “Museums generally display items that have some special status, that are rare, or valuable. But in this project, I want to give the ‘museum treatment’ to the stuff it would normally throw away.”
I was intrigued to learn that Sofaer had also recently directed a staging of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion at the Folkoperan in Stockholm:
In this production the recitative which carries the biblical text has been replaced by filmed interviews that are projected on a screen which covers the wall behind the stage. In the interviews, singers and musicians share personal stories which concern the big themes of the passion: forgiveness, guilt, pain, fear, loneliness, and love.
The staging is kept simple, with the ensemble, including the orchestra, on stage all the time. As one body of people, they act as collective witnesses, with soloists emerging from the amongst them in a series of tableaux.
At the start of his talk, Sofaer quoted this famous statement by French Fluxus artist Robert Filliou as his own “rallying cry”: “‘Art is what makes life more interesting than art.”