Sound Speed Marker
Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler
Sound Speed Marker by Teresa Hubbard and Alexander Birchler was comprised of three video installations and related photographs, covering a span of five years of work which explore film’s relationship to place and the traces that movie making leaves behind. The exhibition included the premiere of Giant (2014), a work commissioned by Ballroom Marfa. The exhibition was on view at Ballroom until August 10, 2014 and was accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue. Sound Speed Marker traveled to the Irish Museum of Modern Art in December 2014 and the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston in May 2015.
Notable works from the exhibition include:
Grand Paris Texas (2009) considers the physical and social space of a dead movie theater, a forgotten song and the inhabitants of a small town. The Grand Theater, an abandoned, pigeon-filled movie theater in downtown Paris, serves as the protagonist in a narrative that explores Paris as a meta-location constructed through celluloid and soundtrack. Grand Paris Texas connects three seminal movies of the Southwest: Wim Wenders’ Paris, Texas (1984), Bruce Beresford’s Tender Mercies (1983), and King Baggot’s classic silent film, Tumbleweeds (1925).
In Movie Mountain (Méliès) (2011), Hubbard/Birchler explore the site of a mountain in the Chihuahuan Desert near the town of Sierra Blanca. The project generates several narrative strands that interweave memory and forgetting. Movie Mountain (Méliès) features a script-writing cowboy as well as local residents whose relatives performed in an original silent picture filmed at the mountain.
Giant (2014) interweaves signs of life and vistas of a decaying movie set built outside of Marfa: the Reata mansion from the 1956 Warner Bros. film, Giant starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean. After filming was completed the three-sided facade was left behind in the landscape. Hubbard/Birchler explore the skeletal remains of the set as seasons change, day turns to night and parts of the structure swing and fall off. Scenes of a film crew recording the current conditions are juxtaposed with a Warner Bros. office in 1955, where a secretary types up the location contract for the motion picture that has yet to be created.
Teresa Hubbard, born in Dublin, Ireland 1965 and Alexander Birchler, born in Baden, Switzerland 1962, have been working collaboratively in video, photography and sculpture since 1990. Their work is held in numerous private and public collections including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D. C.; Kunstmuseum Basel; Kunsthaus Zurich; Modern Art Museum Fort Worth; Museum of Fine Arts Houston; Yokohama Museum of Art and the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich. Work in this exhibition appears courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Lora Reynolds Gallery, Austin.
Sound Speed Marker and its programs have been made possible by the generous support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; L & M Charitable Foundation, Inc.; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; The Moody Foundation; the Aargauer Kuratorium, Switzerland and The Brown Foundation, Inc., Houston.
With underwriting support provided by Charles Attal; Suzanne Deal Booth; J. Travis Capps, Jr.; Molly Kemp; Jeanne & Mickey Klein; John Thornton; Melba & Ted Whatley and Ballroom Marfa members.
In-kind support provided by Lance Armstrong, Big Bend Brewing Company, Quality Quinn, Charles Mary Kubricht & Ron Sommers and the Marfa Visitor Center.
Additional support provided by the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston; Irish Museum of Modern Art; Lora Reynolds Gallery; Tonya Bonakdar Gallery and Bill & Bettye Nowlin Research Fellowship in Photography at the University of Texas at Austin.
Special thanks to AEP Texas, Francesca Altamura, Skye Ashbrook, Lalo Baeza, Brice Beasley, Jennifer Bell, the Big Bend Sentinel, Michael Camacho, Joe Cashiola, Ross Cashiola, Rob Crowley, Dan Dunlap, Hilary duPont, Boyd Elder, the Evans family, Fat Lyle’s, Cuca Flores, Frama, Bill Haddad, Erin Kimmel, Gerry Luján, Marfa Public Radio, Nicolas Miller, Minerva Lopez, William Parrott, Francisco Rosas, Gory Smelley, Junie Villareal and WNP Industries.
Giant was commissioned by Ballroom Marfa.
Grand Paris Texas was commissioned by the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Movie Mountain (Méliès) was created with generous support of the Alturas Foundation.