Geometry of Now GES-2 / Moscow

March 10, 2017

The widely discussed transformation of the former power station GES-2 into a new museum complex for the V-A-C Foundation was suspended for the short but ambitious exhibition-cum-music festival “Geometry of Now.”

Curator Mark Fell invited seventeen local and international artists to baptize the space and give communion to its potential visitors. For one week, industrial rooms, chambers and mazy corridors were reanimated with singing voices, hissing noises and spectral images. One of the biggest halls was populated with Jana Winderen’s amplified recordings of snapping shrimps and echo-locating whales. In the smallest space, Philipp Ilinskiy organized a claustrophobic and disorientating dark labyrinth where one could navigate by aural means only. In this compellingly interactive work, sound art’s lack of spectacle art turned out to be spectacular in itself.

Attentive viewers may have noticed Edmund Husserl’s book Origin of Geometry in the show’s reading room, thus revealing the exhibition’s hidden intellectual overtones. Indeed, the very idea of phenomenological presence was especially key to an evening concert program that bound the public to strict rules of behavior. An almost inaudible composition by Éliane Radigue; Terre Thaemlitz’s heavy video essay on transgender and emigrants rights; and Luke Fowler’s celluloid film shot at the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture: all required intense concentration and self-reflexive awareness.

An evening “rave” program radicalized the experience by rendering it visceral and carnal, testifying to Fell’s own interest in neurological theories of music. Accompanied by cries of “give us techno,” the lineup gradually progressed from aggressive performances, like Hannah Sawtell’s militant strobe lights or Russell Haswell’s lasers, to locomotive music with a familiar 4/4 beat. Attendees with the most enduring organs of perception were gratified by late-night sets by Mumdance, Anthony Shakir and DJ Sprinkles. Thus, through the process of natural selection, “Geometry of Now” winnowed its audience down to an “elite within the elite” who prefers music, deconstructing club culture itself.

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