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MusicVisual Art

The Marfa Sessions

27 Sep 200828 Feb 2009


Marfa, Texas


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

The Marfa Sessions was Ballroom Marfa’s first exhibition devoted to artists working with sound. Independent curators Regine Basha, Rebecca Gates, and Lucy Raven brought together fifteen artists with specific interests in sound work and its potential as a transgressive medium across place and geography. Individual sound projects were installed at Ballroom and embedded within the public spaces and private corners of Marfa, creating a sonic portrait across the town. Sound interventions were installed and transmitted in a wide range of locations, from local eateries to radio airwaves. 

Ballroom’s gallery, the exhibition’s headquarters, featured a visitor’s center sound hub, an exhibition of new visual artwork, and the gallery served as an information hub providing maps to guide visitors to the sound projects throughout town. The fifteen works in the exhibition included already extant pieces adapted for installation in public spaces throughout Marfa, and six new site-specific works specially commissioned by Ballroom and created by: Kaffe Matthews; Nina Katchadourian; Christina Kubisch; Deborah Stratman and Steven Badgett; Steve Roden and Stephen Vitiello; and Steve Rowell and Simparch. 

Considered a context-specific exhibition with sound, The Marfa Sessions included specially designed sound environments and acoustic spaces; visual artworks with an integral aural element; and sound work 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.

Other artists in the exhibition included: Emily Jacir, Louise Lawler, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, Dario Robleto, and Julianne Swartz.

Through site-specific works, activated at various locations across the town, and with the collaboration of the community, The Marfa Sessions aimed to amplify the varied sets 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 sought to call the ear to Marfa and its environs, noting the aural and conceptual depth and breadth of this vast setting.

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