Whitney Biennial 2014

Solo en Inglès

Hear directly from artists as they discuss the thoughts, processes, and ideas behind their work in the 2014 Biennial. The guide also features commentary from Biennial curators Stuart Comer, Anthony Elms, and Michelle Grabner.

210Terry Adkins


Terry Adkins, Installation view, from left to right: _Aviarium (Dickcissel)_, _Aviarium (Mourning Dove)_, _Aviarium (Seaside Sparrow)_, _Aviarium (Grasshopper Sparrow)_, and _Aviarium (Broad-winged Hawk)_. All works: 2014. Steel, aluminum, silver-plated brass cymbals, and trumpet mute, dimensions variable. Estate of Terry Adkins; courtesy Salon 94, New York

ANTHONY ELMS: Terry Adkins’s sculptures are five aluminum and then silver-plated brass sculptures that are physical, three-dimensional representations of birdcalls. 


NARRATOR: Curator Anthony Elms. 


ANTHONY ELMS: And so they take a sonographic recording of a birdcall and sort of turn that simple sonar graph into a three-dimensional shape.


The idea was to keep these things that are very large, very heavy, very sculptural. But then all along he’d wanted them to have some sort of sense of being above you, like being birdcalls, like being perched—not quite so literally as to be perched in a tree, but they’re in the air, sounds that are in the air, that are over you, that are hovering over you, that are sort of reaching out past you.


NARRATOR: Adkins was a musician, and often played percussion. Many of his works were about sound or music—though they were sometimes silent, like this one. Here, the individual forms in the waves look like cymbals. 


ANTHONY ELMS: He’s made several works in the past with percussion instruments, because they are quite physical, and you can sort of tell that they are a shape that has a sound. And so ultimately when he was working through the ideas, he just went back to a material that he knows and loves, which [are] cymbals, or things that are sort of cymbal-shaped. 


NARRATOR: Terry Adkins passed away in February of this year. This was his final project. 


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