|On view March 12 – December 12, 2021|
|Houston, TX – November 19, 2020 – Buffalo Bayou Partnership is pleased to announce a newly commissioned artwork for the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern by the internationally renowned multi-media artist, Anri Sala. This immersive new film and sound installation, titled Time No Longer, will occupy the Cistern for a period of nine months, transporting visitors into an other-worldly environment within this vast, subterranean reservoir.|
Time No Longer will incorporate film projected onto a translucent, 22 by 150-foot (7 by 45-meter) screen with a soundtrack emanating throughout the space, its reverberations creating ripples on the surface of the water. Visitors will encounter the work in 360 degrees by making their way around the full perimeter of the 87,500-square-foot Cistern, hearing, feeling, and watching it through the Cistern’s 221 supporting columns.
The film depicts a weathered turntable floating in a space station. It is tethered only by its electric cord, which allows it to keep playing a vinyl record. There appears to be no human presence to listen to it, and an uneasy quiescence around it suggests it may be spinning in the aftermath of a catastrophe – a custodian of that absent humanity. With its own acrobatic intelligence, the tonearm moves from place to place on the record, the needle’s touch and rise resuming and ceasing its music. In a manner that seems not entirely at the mercies of gravity or chance, it continuously conducts itself. From its position in space, it observes 16 earthly sunrises and sunsets each day.
The turntable plays a new arrangement of French composer Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time that draws on the unique history of the quartet’s composition. During the Second World War, Messiaen (1908–1992) was captured at Verdun and incarcerated at a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. While imprisoned he wrote Quartet for the End of Time, premiering it in 1941 – with three fellow musician prisoners – to an audience of captives and guards. Scored only for instruments they could each play and find, this extraordinary piece of chamber music remains the most searingly haunting and memorable work composed through incarceration. Sala recognized in Messiaen’s elegiac piece not only a sense of overwhelming loneliness at a time when the world’s crises seemed insurmountable, but also the need to bring something – however fragile and soft-spoken – into that numbness. For Time No Longer, Sala was particularly drawn to the only solo movement of the quartet, ‘The Abyss of the Birds’, which was written for clarinet and played by Messiaen’s fellow prisoner of war, Algerian musician Henri Akoka. As Messiaen put it, “The abyss is Time with its sadness, its weariness. The birds [clarinet] are the opposite to Time; they are our desire for light…”
Sala found a natural complement to this isolated clarinet in another remarkable musical event, the story of Ronald McNair’s saxophone. In 1986 McNair, one of the world’s first Black astronauts to have reached space, was also a professional saxophone player who had planned to play and record a saxophone solo on board the Space Shuttle Challenger. This would have been the first original piece of music recorded in space had not that journey been suddenly and tragically curtailed; the spacecraft disintegrated seconds after take-off, killing everyone on board. Sala felt that composing a saxophone part for ‘The Abyss of the Birds’ would subtly re-envisage a piece that was never played where it was intended, and also form a duet between two instrumental voices – empathetic and interdependent through what they have endured. The saxophone is introduced in Time No Longer only when the needle leaves the vinyl, granting McNair a ghostly presence, refracted into space via Akoka’s clarinet. The powerful acoustics of the cavernous Cistern also indicate the vastness and loneliness of what connects McNair and Akoka, respectively outer space and incarceration.
“We are in awe of what Anri Sala has created for the Cistern and cannot wait to share this poetic project with the public,” said Karen Farber, Buffalo Bayou Partnership’s Vice President of External Affairs. “From the moment he saw the space, Sala was taken with it, and he has created an artwork that truly responds to both the Cistern’s uniqueness, and the story of the City of Houston. We are so fortunate to play host to this exciting work.”
Houston provides an appropriate setting for Time No Longer, Sala’s most ambitious project to date. It is both the origin and fulcrum of two endeavors at the extent of our vertical frontiers: one boring deep into the earth to extract its riches, another venturing upwards into improbable space exploration. For nine months, the Cistern’s underground chamber will become the dwelling place for a symbiosis steeped in suffering, but never bound by it.
The sound arrangement for Time No Longer is made in partnership with two of Sala’s long-term collaborators, Hungarian-American musician André Vida, and French sound designer Olivier Goinard. The saxophone is performed by Vida himself, while the clarinet is performed by French clarinetist Raphaël Sévère. Time No Longer is curated in collaboration with Weingarten Art Group.
This project is organized by Buffalo Bayou Partnership with lead underwriting provided by Suzanne Deal Booth Cultural Trust, John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation, and Marian Goodman Gallery. Free Thursdays at the Cistern sponsored by KBR. Major support provided by Radoff Family Foundation, Scott and Judy Nyquist, and [N.A!] Project, with additional support from Weingarten Art Group. Buffalo Bayou Partnership is funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance. (as of November 19, 2020)
Online Press Kit
Excerpt of “Time No Longer”
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Anri Sala constructs transformative, time-based works through multiple relationships between image, architecture, and sound, employing these as elements to fold, capsize, and question experience. His works investigate ruptures in language, syntax, and music, inviting creative dislocations which generate new interpretations of history, supplanting old fictions and narratives with less-explicit, more-nuanced dialogues. His work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2019); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2017); the New Museum, New York (2016); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2014); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2012); Serpentine Gallery, London (2011); Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami (2008); and ARC, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2004). He has also participated in major group exhibitions and biennials internationally, including the Fifty-seventh Venice Biennale (2017), documenta (13) (2012), the Twenty-ninth São Paulo Biennial (2010), the Second Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2007), and the Fourth Berlin Biennale (2006). In 2013, he represented France in the Fifty-fifth Venice Biennale. Anri Sala has an upcoming solo exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria, opening July 2021.
André Vida is a saxophonist and composer living in Berlin. Vida has created performance pieces augmenting the physical gestures and energies present in the instantaneous moments of improvisation. Vida has performed widely as a soloist and has also collaborated with a diverse group of artists. Vida has been commissioned by Hyper! at The Deichtorhallen, the Tri-Centric Foundation, Global Art Forum 7 and 10, the 8th Berlin Biennale, Eyebeam, and the European Sax Ensemble. A three-volume set of his work from 1995 – 2011 was released on PAN, his piece for 41 saxophones, Minor Differences, was released on Entr’acte, and he has been featured in The Wire, TANK, Monopol, and Electronic Beats.
Olivier Goinard is a French sound designer who started his career collaborating with many French filmmakers (Olivier Assayas, Benoît Jacquot, André Téchiné, Cédric Kahn, Mia Hansen Löve, Julie Bertucelli, Deniz Gamze Ergüven, Agnès Varda). Since 2007 he has been mixing the films of award-winning directors in Cannes and other major international film festivals (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Xavier Dolan, Naomi Kawase or Jia Zhang Ké). In 2020, Olivier Goinard received the César (National Film Award of France) for best sound for his work on The Wolf’s Call, a film by Antonin Baudry. Besides his work for the cinema, a close collaboration with Anri Sala started in 1998 and continues through sound design and the monitoring of the artists diverse projects.
ABOUT BUFFALO BAYOU PARTNERSHIP
Established in 1986, Buffalo Bayou Partnership (BBP) is the non-profit transforming and revitalizing Buffalo Bayou, Houston’s most significant natural resource. The organization’s geographic focus is the 10-square mile stretch of the bayou that flows from Shepherd Drive, through the heart of downtown into the East End, and onto the Port of Houston Turning Basin. Thanks to the generous support of foundations, corporations, individuals and government agencies, BBP has implemented more than $200 million in improvements for the redevelopment and stewardship of the waterfront – spearheading award-winning projects such as Buffalo Bayou Park, planning for new parks and green space east of downtown, constructing hike and bike trails, and operating comprehensive clean-up and maintenance programs.
Buffalo Bayou Partnership also activates the waterway through pedestrian, boating and biking amenities; volunteer activities; and wide-ranging tours and programs that engage tens of thousands of visitors each year. The organization has long been dedicated to presenting arts projects along the bayou – working with a coterie of local, national, and internationally recognized artists as well as collaborating with a broad spectrum of organizations on film, music, dance and cultural events. BBP’s vision for its public art program is to present inspiring and original art and cultural experiences, engage our diverse communities, promote opportunities for connection and dialogue, and celebrate the unique character of Buffalo Bayou.
ABOUT BUFFALO BAYOU PARK CISTERN
A structure reminiscent of the ancient Roman cisterns in Istanbul, the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern is a cavernous, 87,500-square-foot-space featuring more than 200 slender, 25-foot high concrete columns. BBP rediscovered the Cistern in 2010 when it was developing the $58-million Buffalo Bayou Park project, a 160-acre green space west of downtown Houston. Recognizing the significance of the highly unusual site, BBP took a bold step to repurpose the Cistern into a magnificent public space. In addition to tours highlighting the history and architecture of the Cistern, BBP presents an ambitious program of changing art installations in this iconic space. This will be the Cistern’s third major art installation, following Rain: Magdalena Fernández at the Houston Cistern in 2016 and Carlos Cruz-Diez at the Cistern: Spatial Chromointerference in 2018.
Simone Leonard, Buffalo Bayou Partnership
713.752.0314 ext. 351
Rosanna Hawkins, Rees & Co.
+44 (0)7910 092634