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Naama Tsabar’s “Perimeters” opens at The Bass Museum in Miami on November 28 and is on view through April 17, 2022. The solo show invites visitors to engage and interact with sculpture that challenges our perceptions of sound, sculpture, architecture, and the museum as a space.
Investigating the function of music, exploring the potential of hidden spaces, and offering alternative narratives, the New York–based artist will present new and site-specific work. Viewers can reach into a wall to play an instrument unseen, or sing into a microphone just out of sight. Broken guitars are restrung to be played anew, and shoes upturned and paired with a metronome mark the passing of time.
To hear more about the show, Whitewaller caught up with Tsabar, who will create a space-specific performance during Miami Art Week with local musicians this November.
WHITEWALLER: Can you tell us about making Melody of Certain Damage, a series of smashed guitars, which begins the show?
NAAMA TSABAR: The works start off in my studio as electric guitars. I order a new electric guitar, I tune it, and then I break it in my studio alone. The breaking is not a performative act necessarily, but, rather, like a sculptural act. The way those pieces scatter for each individual guitar, I map that out, and they are installed in the same fashion. I insert new sets of strings on to them and reinsert them into a working order.
When I think about these works, I don’t feel like they’re created through destruction. I feel like the moment after the destructive act is the starting point. It’s leaving the pieces exactly where they are and thinking how they can be mended, how things can reenter a working order. I’m thinking of the work starting a minute after that action has happened. It is a work in many ways about healing and of new ways to move.
WW: Also on view will be a number of “Inversions,” a series where visitors can activate instruments or microphones to play sound within the gallery, essentially turning the museum into an instrument itself. How do you want visitors to engage with these pieces?
NT: These work are holes that resemble sound holes, like the ones you find on instruments,
that are embedded into architecture. You come into a space which is empty and everything that is happening behind the walls. When you would penetrate the walls through these holes, you could activate a set of strings inside the wall and play or another is a singing cavity, with microphones you don’t see.
At The Bass there are three new ones that are activated through movement, meaning you don’t have to know how to play or don’t need the courage to sing or talk to the wall. Rather, the mere penetration of the wall with your body activates a set of sensors that output a sound. The space behind the wall becomes really malleable and performative in relation to your body.
WW: How did you arrive at the title, “Perimeters”?
NT: All the works are on the edges of the space architecturally, whether it be the floor, behind the walls. And thinking about decentralizing the places of power, decentralizing our experience, going into the perimeters of things, the female voice is one of those things that lives on those borders, and has lived through history on those borders.
My choice to work on performances with female and gender nonconforming musicians is part of that bigger encompassing thought about giving space and a platform for what is considered on the perimeters within our society. I’m trying in my own way to constantly push against that.