Unexpected Musical Delights On Display in Ridgefield

Feb 3, 2014

Fans of Merle Haggard, photographed by James Mollison at the Von Braun Center Concert Hall in Huntsville, Alabama.
Credit James Mollison / The Aldrich

Music can involve us beyond the act of mere listening. At the current exhibition at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, you will need all five senses. Be prepared to get physical. With an eye and ear toward expanding our understanding of music and art, The Aldrich has brought together the work of five gifted contemporary artists in a series called Music, through March 9.

Your journey triggers a cacophony of squeaks, rustling sounds, and hissing echoes.

The exhibit aims to capture transformative moments that happen when art and music intersect. This thought provoking and entertaining collection by Martin Creed, Simon Blackmore, Sol LeWitt, James Mollison, and Xaviera Simmons, includes works in photography, installation, sculpture, new media, performance, video, and archives. 

The Aldrich, using its total immersion approach, has turned all of its galleries and public spaces -- including the elevator -- into a laboratory of unexpected musical delights. According to exhibitions director Richard Klein, “The visitor comes to the museum having a preconceived notion, perhaps, of what a semester of music based exhibitions would be. In many cases, we try to subvert those expectations.”

Leading the collective is the legendary conceptual artist Martin Creed. Easy to love, but hard to label, the artist-musician-composer-performer-choreographer offers visitors a collection of works called Scales. It invites us to watch, listen, and to physically partake.

Martin Creed's exhibit includes gold balloons.
Credit The Aldrich

"Work No. 1190" awaits you in the farthest corner of the museum, where a greeter helps you squeeze through a half-opened door. You're then on your way to push through thousands of shiny gold balloons that fill an anonymous space.

Your journey, while at times claustrophobic, triggers a cacophony of squeaks, rustling sounds, and hissing echoes. You realize you’re creating something in concert with a distant chorus of shifting balloons: a duet, trio, quartet; who knows? That soft rumbling from anonymous adventurers elsewhere in balloon land might just be answering you back.

Fans of The Casualties photographed by James Mollison at The Winter Gardens in Blackpool, U.K.
Credit James Mollison / The Aldrich
Fans of P. Diddy photographed by James Mollison at Crobar in Miami.
Credit James Mollison / The Aldrich

Creed realized his 1190 by calculating the gallery’s cubic volume and dividing it in half, a measure by which the total number of balloons needed to fill that volume is determined.

“What’s so refreshing about Martin,” Klein pointed out, “is that first of all, the work is very accessible. It’s complicated work, but anyone could understand it. You might not agree with all of it, or enjoy all of it, but there’s a huge entertainment factor built into it.”

Another intriguing exhibition is James Mollison’s "The Disciples," a vibrant collection of life-size, panoramic photographs that fill the largest ground floor gallery. The images, captured over a four-year span by Mollison and his wife Amber, catalog a wide assortment of fans at specific music concerts in both the U.S. and Europe.

This magazine cover-style photo collection reveals Mollison’s deep fascination with people and their passion for music. More importantly, it’s visual evidence on how music creates incredibly powerful collective and social bonds, and how those bonds are reinforced by tribal codes and signs. Whether it’s The Stones, P. Diddy, Merle Haggard, or Bob Dylan, a distinct anthropological community is documented through clothing, hair, accessories, even posture and attitude.

If you plan to attend:

The Aldrich is at 258 Main Street in Ridgefield. It's open Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 5:00 pm. Give them a call at (203) 438-4519.