Whitehot Magazine

August 2012: Hannah Weinberger @ the Swiss Institute

Installation View, Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute, New York.

Hannah Weinberger; Le Moi Du Toi
The Swiss Institute, New York.
June 27th – August 5th, 2012

Recently closed at the Swiss Institute was Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi an audio installation which encompassed the entire interior space. This was the artist's first solo show ever and her work was only recently discovered by Gianni Jetzer, Director of the Swiss Institute. On the eve of the opening, I was fortunate to step outside the noisy gallery and have a few words with the artist.

Hannah Weinberger, is from Switzerland and was born in 1988, she is currently based in Basel. The exhibition at the Swiss Institute dealt with the concept of space, time, and sound. Other artists who have recently worked in this way are Ryan Gander (who is currently part of DOCUMENTA (13) and Christian Boltanski, specifically No Man’s Land, which was on view in New York at the Park Avenue Armory in 2010.

Katy Diamond Hamer: Let’s talk a little bit about the audio. I’m curious about the sounds that you’ve chosen. Where do they come from?

Hannah Weinberger: For this show, it wasn’t so easy because my first show was [only recently] at the Kunsthalle in Basel, in March and I made a big sound installation. It was six hundred square meters and five rooms, so I could work in layers. Here at the Swiss Institute in New York there is a focus mostly in the main gallery although, there is the lower level as well. I produced this for New York, it’s a little bit faster than I usually work and also it has a little bit of guitar [in the audio composition].

Hamer: I noticed the guitar! It reminded me of Medieval guitar playing, something that one would hear at the Renaissance Faire.

Weinberger: I work very intuitively. I don’t see myself as a musician, although of course I am the composer, but I use it [the sound] as a media. So I selected thousands of presets and samples from Logic, Garageband and others. It’s not necessarily an open source of course, but every Mac user or people who have access to a particular site, can retrieve the sounds. I have tried not to make a soundtrack, to still have different parts where the viewer is an important part of the show because he decides where to stand, what to listen to, or how for how long.

Hamer: That’s something I really like, that the installation (which featured free-standing and hanging black speakers) allows for movement around the space of the gallery.

Weinberger: Most exhibitions are like this [regarding time a viewer will spend], but with sound, when you leave, you’ve determined how long the soundtrack to your experience has lasted whether ten minutes or thirty minutes.

Installation View, Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi, 2012.
Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute, New York.

Hamer: How did you choose all the different and varied sounds that are part of this composition?

Weinberger: I like to combine various sources, including Death Metal and guitar with Irish Folk music, something I enjoy. Beyond the choice of sounds, the entire audio is based on the heartbeat (80-140 bpm, 4/4).

Hamer: Ahhh I hadn’t realized that!

Weinberger: I’ve used five step intonations and think of the sound as a grid, C major, C minor, D major, D minor, so there is a harmony, everything is meant to fit together. It’s obviously not the only way to make a soundtrack but with so many different sounds together, you as a person, can still enjoy it and still have more more or less a neutral, position in space. I’ve exhibited in group shows, and I like making sounds that are more about the experience [and don’t have cinematic visuals].

Hamer: I really like that the cacophony of audio is based on the beating heart. It allows for an immediate human connection between the experience and the audio.

Weinberger: Exactly, when that is not the case, it would be much easier to get distracted [from the sound]. With this equipment [and current technology] you can manipulate a lot.

Hamer: Well, congratulations on a successful opening and Le Moi Du Toi. Speaking to you was really helpful in understanding your process. I look forward to seeing (or hearing rather) more of your work in the near future.

Weinberger: Thanks a lot!

Installation View, Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute, New York.

Installation View, Hannah Weinberger, Le Moi Du Toi, 2012. Courtesy of the artist and the Swiss Institute, New York.


Katy Hamer

Katy Diamond Hamer is an art writer based in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently contributing to Flash Art International, Sleek, NY Magazine, Whitehot Magazine and others. For more of her writing visit: http://www.eyes-towards-the-dove.com

Photograph by Takis Spyropoulos, 2012

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