Late Nights at the Whitney
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To create her work for the 2012 Biennial, Pipe Organ, Lutz Bacher has fitted an old Yamaha organ with corroded, discolored organ pipes and rigged it with bamboo “fingers.” The organ and pipes, controlled by a computer program, give voice to a random sequence of sudden sounds and pronounced silences that provide an unexpected rhythm to the exhibition. Bacher’s intervention adds new meaning to the organ’s already rich connotations. Here, associations of religious piety intersect with suggestions of destruction and the beautiful, perplexingly otherworldly tones themselves, evoking much yet deftly resisting clear articulation.
The framed pages that make up Bacher’s The Celestial Handbook were taken from found copies of a mid-century astronomy handbook. Each page ostensibly describes the unimaginable vastness of space, but the photographs and captions fall far short of the immense task. By disrupting the order of the book and scattering pages throughout the Museum, she further unsettles the already unsteady relationship between text and image.
Like much of Bacher’s practice, these works, as well as those on view on the fourth floor May 23–June 3, use readymades in unexpected ways to pose questions—but those questions remain inscrutable, and no answers are offered.
Lutz Bacher's Pipe Organ is on view on the Museum's third floor. Her work, The Celestial Handbook, is on view on every floor of the Biennial. Bacher's work is also on view in the Museum's fourth floor galleries from May 23 through June 3.