It is very difficult to be quiet. But ugly sounds can also be nice, if one tries to really listen to them.
Chairs and a small, square table stood in the otherwise empty space. The artist walked out, sat down, picked up a pin and held it over the table in a gesture that requested quiet. Once the audience was completely silent, he dropped the pin. Its clink resounded, echoed throughout the room.
Kuhn and a colleague seated themselves in a pair of ordinary chairs. Each shift in position caused their chairs, rigged with microphones, to broadcast every squeak and groan.
Audio equipment hung from the ceiling. With a tape recorder and synthesizer, Kuhn experimented with ordinary sounds – hand clapping, throat clearing, repetitions and alterations of syllables. He rearranged the noises, played them, and talked back and forth with the equipment and himself.
Both of the performances are about listening. The audience has to realize that they have got ears. There is always sound. It is very difficult to be quiet. But ugly sounds can also be nice, if one tries to really listen to them.
Hans Peter Kuhn (German, b. 1952) is a Berlin-based artist and composer who creates large-scale, site-specific light and sound environments for public spaces, museums, theater, and dance. Kuhn’s work has been exhibited at Centre Pompidou, Paris; MoMA PS1, New York; Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin; the Venice Biennale; Metropolitan Opera, New York; Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York; ICA, London; and Museum of Fine Arts Boston, among many others. Kuhn was awarded the prestigious Golden Lion at the 1993 Venice Biennal for Memory/Loss, his collaborative installation with theater director and playwright Robert Wilson.