pijl english
Music Makes You Buy Things
© Sarah Van den Elsken
Music Makes You Buy Things
05/10 - 22/12/2007

The exhibition ‘Music Makes You Buy Things’ is about the relationship between music and the public space.

Imagine: we walk on a Saturday afternoon in the centre of town and, while we look at the shop windows, we are accompanied by music squeaking in an unelegant and distorted way out of loudspeakers hanging from the façades of the houses. Who chooses that music? Whose taste does it represent? Did they ask me whether I like it? What’s the purpose? Can I put it off, please? We enter a shop, and we enter at the same time another musical world. A jeans shop: hip hop; a lady’s boutique: Celine Dion; the health shop: sounds of the amazon forest….

Today it rains. We go to the shopping mall: music in the parking, music in the elevator, music in the halls and the shops, even in the toilets… It’s rightly called ‘elevator music’. The composer has no name and no face, the rhythm flows endlessly without tension and resolution, hiding the disharmony of children screaming for an icecream…

The title of this exhibition is provocative because it questions the commercialisation of music, which is inevitably the commercialisation of our lives. Music in public spaces is for the mass. It is music which denies itself because it must not be perceived, it only has to accompany our acts. In the background. A powerful background because – as the title says – ‘it makes you buy things’, it gives you the anesthetizing experience of being like in a movie, a character playing its Saturday-afternoon routine. Music binds imperceptibly this community of buyers, this chorus without a voice. This is the dynamic of manipulation.

Video: Olga Teresa Lagerwall - Edit: Saturnia

Still, there is another dimension to music in public space. Flemish towns have a tradition, a musical tradition. High up in the celestial stratosphere surrounding the church tower, isolated in the middle of no-where, no-space, is the carilloneur. The sounds I perceive while walking in the city come from far away and do not surround me: they call me. This is the dynamic of enchantment: follow me, follow me, like a ‘rattenvanger” leading us to the skies. When we hear the carillon, we hear it together with many other sounds. The sound is never pure. Yet, it can be distilled. We lift our head and turn our eyes to the tower. Someone there is playing for me. For free. If I want, I can take this free ride, sit on a bench and rest. Music individualises, it pulls me out of the mass. The carillon creates a musical moment of stillness in the midst of a cacophonic city.

Blue Room

In this exhibition you will appreciate the fascination of the artist for objects. Interested in this second, non-commercial dimension of music in public space, Corinne and Marc have worked around the carilloneur of Hasselt. They have tried to picture a tradition of music creation and ‘broadcast’ which ‘seems’ from the past. But is it? The photographic compositions challenge our perception and our imagination, while the texts grafted on the images provoke reflection. The carilloneur appears next to the deejay, the symbol of today’s music creation and broadcasting.

Main Room

And the public space is here inhabited by two special characters: the street cleaner and the homeless. Cleaning and tidying up the open space and sleeping in it…. Please, carilloneur, play me a lullaby….

LIVE AT THE DEEP END (Soundscape, 08:07)

In the exhibition the bed of the homeless is surrounded by a soundscape (‘Live At The Deep End’), a musical composition of whale sounds, woven together with a work of Erik Satie ('Trois Gnossiennes, n° 1'), performed on the carillon of Mol. The ‘free space’ of the oceans through which these sounds travel for thousands of kilometers, intertwines with the ‘public space’ of a city where the carillon resounds…

•   •   •

photography: Corinne Bukac
concept: Marc Herman
sound design: Lawrence Herman
carillon: Carl Van Eyndhoven

•   •   •

press release