International exhibitions Sarkis, Ballads, Submarine Wharf, Rotterdam

International 2012 Archives

Sarkis, Ballads
Submarine Wharf, Rotterdam (The Netherlands)
02.06 - 30.09.2012

07.09 - 25.11.2012

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E-Flux press release

The Submarine Wharf in Rotterdam's docklands is currently undergoing a true transformation. The construction of the various monumental sculptures that make up Sarkis' installation Ballads, commissioned by Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Port of Rotterdam, is almost finished. They include an 18-metre bell tower and a 16-meter lampshade in which a spotlight rises and falls to the rhythm of the artist's breathing.

This summer the Submarine Wharf on the RDM Campus is presenting the installation Ballads by Sarkis (born 1938). The building's original function—submarines were once built here—and the surrounding water are central to the installation. Sarkis unites the building's past and present, creating an extraordinary experience for the visitor with monumental objects, music, and coloured films that filter the daylight like a modern variant of stained-glass windows. Sarkis is the third artist that Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and the Port of Rotterdam have invited to make an installation in the Submarine Wharf.

Water and air
"In Ballads Sarkis attempts to create a connection between the dark depths of the water and the majestic expanse of thin air," writes guest curator Nicolette Gast in the booklet that accompanies the exhibition. The carillon continuously plays the composition Litany for the Whale by American composer John Cage (1912–1992) and takes the visitor on a journey into the realm where submarines and whales meet. The pendant to the monumental bell tower is the slender 16-meter-high lampshade covered with white down feathers. The Futuro, a futuristic holiday home, has come to land in the Submarine Wharf, forming an auditorium for Sarkis' videos about water: experiments in form and colour.

The exhibition's English title Ballads—meaning a form of narrative verse or slow, romantic song—should not be taken too literally. The French verb 'se balader' means to go for a walk. Sarkis wants visitors to wander at leisure through the exhibition, accompanied by the music. Visitors can also explore the installation on one of the sixty bicycles arranged below the enormous lampshade.

Exhibition 2 June - 30 September 2012. Submarine Wharf, RDM-straat 1 – Rotterdam (The Nederlands).

© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2012. All Rights Reserved

Musical activities and more
Every Sunday there will be live music on the carillon by Frank Steijns and other musicians. Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen is organising a jazz concert, a carillon and organ concert, and carillon and piano concerts. To coincide with the installation in the Submarine Wharf, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen will present a satellite exhibition of new work by Sarkis: an interpretation in watercolour on ninety-six sheets of the score of Ryoanji by John Cage.