The Many Sounds of Silence

For as long as sound art has been a bona fide genre, silence has been an important medium. Countless avant garde composers have worked the 'absence' of sound into their work, and today's artists have taken many a turn at responding to and initiating their own work of a similar vein. In the exhibition parenthetically titled '[silence]' at New York's Gigantic Art Space, seventeen artists 'address the futility of the chase, the beauty of absence, and the rich potential of an empty signal.' The exhibition includes sculpture, installation, composition, works on paper, and time-based media, all of which was created in the last ten years, during which time the show's organizers, Free103Point9, have operated as a transmission arts organization. Free103 supports artists whose works 'harness, occupy and respond to the airwaves that surround us.' In this case, those artists include Pablo Helguera, Pierre Huyghe, Tarikh Korula & Tianna Kennedy, LoVid, Douglas Repetto, Stephen Vitiello, and other pioneers in this field. Their contributions are historically-informed, form-conscious, and manage to balance poetics, beauty, and action in a way that reveals the sonic richness of every experience. If one will forgive the analogy, the show is also a 'moment of silence' for Gigantic Art Space, who will close after this exhibition comes down. GAS's four years of exhibition programming were often marked by collaborations with musicians and sound artists, and this show seems a fitting requiem. - Marisa Olson