- On view now
- MASS MoCA
A voice, reverberating from the brick walls of small outbuildings that define a grassy courtyard, reads a list of tools as though reciting an incantation. Through the transformative process of rhythm and articulation, Zarouhie Abdalian’s sound installation Chanson du ricochet (2016) allows us to hear each term anew—whether familiar (trowel, reamer, ruler, mop) or highly specialized (jeweler’s rouge, blocking pin, snap link, hammerstone.)
Abdalian is interested in memory and boundaries and the way that they are articulated through both the built environment and our perceptions of it. She created an earlier iteration of Chanson du riochet for Prospect.3, New Orleans, for which she used shaped mirrors to highlight original building materials, accompanied by a recording of a voice reading a list of tools.
At MASS MoCA, she created a new iteration of the work for the 2016 exhibition The Space Between, responding to the history of the museum’s site as a factory for the production of printed textiles and electrical equipment. Abdalian placed transducers on the interior surface of windows in an oft-overlooked portion of the museum’s campus, transforming the museum’s industrial buildings into speakers that give voice to the labor too often erased from view. Names of tools ricochet along the road taken by trucks carrying materials for new works being made at the museum, inviting visitors to consider the processes by which art—and by extension, other goods—are made.
Conjuring links between the site’s historical and current uses, Chanson du ricochet summons the buildings’ industrial origins, and points towards its continuing re-inhabitation as a site of artistic production, suspending us between past, present, and future.
Chanson du ricochet was originally installed as part of The Space Between (2016), which was made possible by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in support of MASS MoCA, the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art, and the Cultural Council of Northern Berkshire, with additional support provided by the Awesome Without Borders chapter of the Awesome Foundation.
Zarouhie Abdalian, Chanson du ricochet (2014)
As installed in The Space Between, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA (April 16, 2016 through January 1, 2017)