ANTHONY ELMS: I reached out to Charlemagne Palestine because I think he’s one of the most under-recognized artists, media-makers, composers, anything, across the board.
NARRATOR: Curator Anthony Elms discusses Palestine’s sound installation in the stairwell.
ANTHONY ELMS: We brought him in for an evening, and he sort of ran, stomped up and down the stairs, and sang and sort of found a tone and found a level of singing and a level of resonance that he was happy with, and then sort of simply went up from the opening landing up to the fifth floor and sang and passed these microphones that recorded him as he went past each landing. And then where those microphones were placed are now speakers. And so the speakers play back his voice exactly as he passed that space. Then as a composer he took those tapes back and tweaked a little bit the pacing of his recording, and added an electronic drone to it, and put it together so that the composition is a piece that moves up and down the space, sort of ghosting his original performance.
NARRATOR: Palestine’s compositions are typically playful, excessive, and spiritual at the same time.
ANTHONY ELMS: He didn’t want to have just the raw technology be there. It was important to him that, since his voice has a presence―and his voice has like this spiritual resonance―that he wanted the speakers to also have that physically, and so the stuffed animals and his little bestial friends sort of sit there to watch over his voice.
Charlemagne Palestine, _hauntteddd!! n huntteddd!! n daunttlesss!! n shuntteddd!!_, 2013. Twelve-channel sound installation on stairwell landings, performance (Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, August 31, 2013). Photograph by Olivia Ciummo
Charlemagne Palestine, _hauntteddd!! n huntteddd!! n daunttlesss!! n shuntteddd!!_, 2014 (detail). Twelve-channel sound installation. Collection of the artist