Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword
Kite Symphony is a multimedia collaboration between musician Roberto Carlos Lange, also known as Helado Negro, and visual artist Kristi Sword. The artists are creating a new, non-linear, and impressionistic style film and live score, as well as a new body of sculptural work that explore the landscape of West Texas through wind, sound, and light. By capturing and documenting sounds the wind generates through interacting with kites, hand-made instruments from native materials, and various sound objects, the artists will bring shape to the ephemeral forces that define the West Texas landscape.
The film and audio field recordings will document the artists day-to-day experiments and meditations in response to the environment. The final score for the film will utilize the field recordings from sound interventions, in addition to new compositions of reinterpreted found sound. The ideas and ephemeral forces that inform the project will further expand into space through a series of artworks, enabling viewers to experience the artists’ process from multiple dimensions.
Kite Symphony is an extension of Roberto and Kristi’s collaborative practice of creating work at the intersection of music, performance, and visual art. Together, the duo created the Tinsel Mammals that have become a visual extension of the musical compositions Helado Negro performs in public. They were first created for the 2014 Vive Latino performance in Mexico City and have now been presented in over 100 performances including special commissions for MASS MoCA, The PAMM Museum in Miami, Millennium Park in Chicago, IMOCA in Indianapolis, The Kitchen NYC, Central Park Summerstage, The REDCAT, and more.
Kite Symphony is organized by Ballroom Marfa’s programs director, Sarah Melendez.
New Music from Roberto Carlos Lange
Kite Symphony, Four Variations is four new pieces of music from Roberto Carlos Lange based on graphic scores created in collaboration with visual artist Kristi Sword.
Guided by Sword’s dynamic and rhythmic graphic notations–visual representations of music through symbols outside the world of traditional music notation–these four music compositions freely explore the lightness of ephemeral moments in the elements, encouraging the listener to meditate on their immediate surroundings.
Lange joined forces with electro-acoustic composer Rob Mazurek, and violist Jeanann Dara, on these pieces using a variety of collaborative sound-making techniques. The new compositions were recorded at Marfa Recording Company while Lange and Sword were in residence in Marfa working on Kite Symphony.
Lange and Sword began working on the project in Marfa in March 2020, when the coronavirus pandemic began to spread. What was originally a three-week trip turned into a three month residency. The artists used this time to delve deeper into their collaborative practice and expand their vision of Kite Symphony through this collection of music.
Collaborating during a pandemic proved to be challenging, but fruitful. Social distancing forced Lange to experiment with different modes of creating and recording sound with Sword, Dara, and Mazurek. During in-person, socially-distanced improvisations, Lange asked the musicians to reflect on the visual scores and respond to questions related to their experiences in the landscape. He used the collaborative responses as source material for these compositions.
Lange describes the Four Variations as a collection of impressionistic sound pieces and invites the listener to open their ears to the sky, the sound of cacti, and the feeling of the wind on their skin. The songs will be released exclusively on Ballroom Marfa’s Bandcamp on June 26, 2020. Twenty-five percent of proceeds will benefit Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, a nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to low-income residents.
Roberto Carlos Lange
Roberto Carlos Lange, Helado Negro (1980) is South Florida native, born to Ecuadorian immigrants and based in Brooklyn. Exploring Latinx identity, and pluralistic sensibilities, his music as Helado Negro is lyrically personal and politically avant-pop. In 2019 he was awarded a United States Artists Fellow in Music and also the recipient of a 2019 Grants to Artists award in Music from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Lange is also a constant collaborator, working on projects with numerous artists including Sufjan Stevens, Julianna Barwick (as Ombre), Devendra Banhart, Helga Davis, and sculptor David Ellis. Helado Negro has presented work in diverse venues from clubs to cultural organizations including the Wexner Center, Columbus, OH; The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA.; Marguilies Warehouse, Miami, FL; Club 2 Club, Turin, Italy; Vive Latino, Mexico City; the Perez Art Museum, Miami, FL; and the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Kristi Sword (1980) is a visual artist working in small scale kinetic sculpture and drawing. Entry into her sculptural work was through her formal jewelry training. She received her B.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design and her M.F.A. from SUNY New Paltz both in Metal and Jewelry. Kristi has shown her artwork at the 92nd St Y in Tribeca as well as the NARS Project Space in Brooklyn. She has made album cover artwork for Helado Negro and Warm Ghost and has completed artist residencies at the Oregon College of Art and Craft and at Marble House.
Kite Symphony is made possible by the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc.; City of Marfa; Fairfax Dorn & Marc Glimcher; Virginia Lebermann & Family; Lebermann Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; the Ballroom Marfa International Surf Club; and Ballroom Marfa members.
Special thanks to Valerie Arber, Cashiola Bros., Jeanann Dara, Meghan Gherety, Virginia Lebermann, Minerva Lopez, Gory Smelley, Derek Walin, Michael Wallace. And to our friends at The Chinati Foundation, Judd Foundation, Marfa Public Radio.