Marfa Dialogues

The Marfa Sessions

Emily Jacir, Nina Katchadourian, Christina Kubisch, Louise Lawler, Inigo-Manglano Ovalle, Kaffe Matthews, Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, Dario Robleto, Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello, Steve Rowell and Simparch, Deborah Stratman and Steven Badgett, Julianne Swartz

27 September 2008 - 28 February 2009

Curated by Regine Basha, Rebecca Gates, and Lucy Raven

Sat. 27 Sept., Ballroom Marfa, Noon

Performance by Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello:
Fri. 26 Sept., Chinati Foundation, Dusk

David Toop and Joshua Kun in conversation:
Sat. 27 Sept., The Capri, 4pm

Live Music: Kurt Wagner of Lambchop followed by DJ Damon Locks
Sat. 27 Sept., The Capri, 9pm

Artists: Emily Jacir, Nina Katchadourian, Christina Kubisch, Louise Lawler, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Kaffe Matthews, Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, Dario Robleto, Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello, Steve Rowell and Simparch, Deborah Stratman and Steven Badgett, Julianne Swartz

Opening in the fall of 2008 is The Marfa Sessions, Ballroom Marfa’s first exhibition devoted to artists working with sound.

Independent curators Regine Basha, Rebecca Gates, and Lucy Raven will bring together fifteen artists with specific interests in sound work and its potential as a transgressive medium across place and geography. Individual sound projects will be installed at Ballroom Marfa and embedded within the public spaces and private corners of Marfa, creating a sonic portrait of this unusual West Texas town.

Ballroom Marfa, the exhibition’s headquarters, will feature a visitors center sound hub, hosting artworks and providing information and maps that point to the sound projects throughout the town. The fifteen works in the exhibition include already extant pieces adapted for installation in public spaces throughout Marfa, and six new site-specific works specially commissioned by Ballroom Marfa and created by: Kaffe Matthews; Nina Katchadourian; Christina Kubisch; Deborah Stratman and Steven Badgett; Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello; and Steve Rowell and Simparch. In some cases artworks will occupy frequented public venues such as Marfa Book Company, local eateries and Marfa Public Radio airwaves; others will be discovered in natural settings near the outskirts of town.

Considered a context-specific exhibition with sound, The Marfa Sessions includes installed sound environments and acoustic spaces; visual artworks with an integral aural element; and sound by visual artists who usually work in other media. This interdisciplinary approach to sound art entails positing artists who are not usually thought of as “Sound Artists” alongside artists who are established in the field, and gives way to as many different interpretations of sound as it does for place.

Marfa, as a desert town, is a remote location by any standard. It is also a uniquely central destination and a historical confluence of various phenomena that include one of the world’s largest astronomical observatories — The McDonald Observatory, Big Bend National Park, The Marfa Lights, a U.S. border patrol station, The Chinati Foundation (also formerly a WWII military base), the Judd Foundation, as well as the filming locations for Giant, There Will Be Blood, and No Country for Old Men.

With site-specific works activating various locations across the town, and with the collaboration of the community, The Marfa Sessions aims to amplify the varied set of physical and metaphoric characteristics that define “Marfa” — its geopolitical position, local identity, myths, as well as its significant relationship to 20th Century Minimalism and Land Art. The Marfa Sessions seeks to call the ear to Marfa and its environs, noting the aural and conceptual depth and breadth of this complex setting.

The opening weekend of The Marfa Sessions begins on Friday 26 September with an original site-specific sound performance on the grounds of the Chinati Foundation by Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello. The artists will use voice, movement, percussive tools and other incidental materials to compose a piece that invokes the mathematical logic of Donald Judd’s “100 untitled works in mill aluminum” and its relationship to the surrounding desert environment.

Following the opening reception on Saturday 27 September, there will be a conversation at Ballroom Marfa between authors Josh Kun and David Toop on the various ways of listening to place, and the overlaps of history and personal memory.

For details on the music concert for The Marfa Sessions opening weekend, and for announcements about upcoming Public Programs running in conjunction with the exhibition, visit:

    Listen to the Ballroom Marfa jingle from the Marfa Jingles CD by Nina Katchadourian.

    Listen to the conversation between David Toop and Joshua Kun on 27 September 2008.

    Listen to Marfa Public Radio’s Talk at Ten interview with The Marfa Sessions curator Regine Basha and artist Nina Katchadourian.

    Sonic Bed_Marfa, featured in The Marfa Sessions at Ballroom Marfa, and conceived and designed by Kaffe Matthews, is the sixth in the music for bodies series of Beds, and the first to use recycled materials, made from weathered plywood colored by the sun and wind here in Marfa.

    In this video, hear it play “Yellow,” which Matthews made by transforming and synthesizing tones of light that she drew around the Bed whilst lying in it. While laying in the Bed, people would also feel a rich tapestry of shifting vibrations swirl around them.

    Video courtesy of Kaffe Matthews, Claudia Casasola, and music for bodies.

    Weekend America aired a lovely piece on The Marfa Sessions. To read a copy of the transcript please visit:

    Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, The Meyer Levy Charitable Foundation, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, Texas Commission on the Arts, Cowles Charitable Trust, Foundation for Contemporary Arts and the Marfa Chamber of Commerce.

    Ballroom Marfa would also like to recognize the following members for their generous matching grant donations: Suzanne Deal Booth, Fluent~Collaborative, Texas Gallery, Anonymous, Meredith Dreiss, Deborah Green, Chris Mattson, Cynthia Toles, Molly Cumming, Molly Davies and ttweak.

    In-kind support provided by the Chinati Foundation, Glen and LeAna Clifton, the Crowley Foundation, Eppenauer Ranch, Lorri Kershner, Marfa Book Company, Morrison True Value, Alpine, TX, Jacqueline Northcut, Permian Basin Distributing, Alpine, TX, Janet and Dave Scott, Michael M. Stevenson, Thunderbird Hotel, Marfa, TX and Titos Vodka, Austin, TX.

    Special thanks to KRTS Marfa Public Radio.

    Ballroom Marfa is proud to have Art Lies magazine as a partner for The Marfa Sessions Opening Weekend.