Marina Rosenfeld: Teenage Lontano

Organized by Laura Ziewitz, Curatorial Assistant

January 29, 2016May 8, 2016

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt sees the current national mood and fraught political landscape in MOCA's Winter/Spring season: "It's clear that at least some of the artists whose works are on view are tapping into the same feelings emerging in the presidential debates. The experience is very much in the moment..." - Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 19, 2016.

Marina Rosenfeld creates works at the intersection of music, performance, and installation. Teenage Lontano (2008) is her cover version of Hungarian composer György Ligeti’s Lontano (1967), an avant-garde orchestral work known for its dense harmonies and orchestration. Ligeti’s piece has been featured in suspense and horror films such as Stanley Kubric’s The Shining (1980) and Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island (2010).

In Teenage Lontano, Rosenfeld reimagines Ligeti’s instrumental work as a composition for a teenage choir. For the work's first performance at the 2008 Whitney Biennial, 34 teenagers lined up below a single horn suspended overhead, rotating at the phonographic speed of 33 1/3 rpm and sweeping the performance site with unearthly electronic sound. Below, the performers shared earbuds distributed to them in pairs; they sang along to Rosenfeld's sonic score in one ear while hearing their own voices and the voices of their immediate neighbors in the other. This strategy enabled the choir as a whole to produce a series of complex dissonances that evoke 20th-century Modernism via dramatically contemporary means. The isolating act of listening to an iPod became a group venture; substituting auditory experience, chance, and imitation for the work of the orchestra, Rosenfeld questioned the very process by which music is made. The result is haunting, vulnerable, and deeply affecting.

Since 2008, Teenage Lontano has been performed five times, including productions in Australia, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Norway, always with local teenage participants. For the exhibition version of this piece—a cover of a cover—installed in Stair A, Rosenfeld remixed the teens’ fragmented commentary, laughter, objections, asides, and vocal stylings that she had captured in their working sessions together. Distributed among separate channels in the stairway, the sound recreates the disjointed spatial effects of the live performance and offers an additional glimpse of the gradual and highly social process by which the work was made.

Marina Rosenfeld (1968, New York) lives and works in New York. She received an MFA in Music and Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts and a BA in Music from Harvard University. She joined the faculty of Bard College’s MFA program in 2003 and has co-chaired its department of Music/Sound since 2007. Recent solo projects have been presented at the Bergen Kunsthall, Norway (2014); South London Gallery (2014); The Museum of Modern Art, New York (2011); the PERFORMA Biennial (2011); the Ultima Contemporary Music Festival, Oslo (2010); the Liverpool Biennial (2010); and the Whitney Biennial (2002 and 2008). Rosenfeld has also performed as an experimental turntablist alongside collaborators including Christian Marclay, Warrior Queen, Ralph Lemon, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company.