Silence (January 30 – April 28, 2013)


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Berkeley, CA, November 21, 2012 -
In today's digitized world, silence is increasingly elusive. For composer John Cage, the absence of sound was not merely elusive, it was impossible. His groundbreaking composition 4'33” contained no actual music, but instead called attention to the ambient sounds surrounding the performance and its audience. He asserted “there is always something to see, something to hear.” On the occasion of Cage's hundredth birthday, Silence presents nearly a century of modern and contemporary art and film to examine the spiritual, existential, and political aspects of silence.

Co-organized by the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) and The Menil Collection in Houston, Silence presents a broad range of works, including iconic pieces by Joseph Beuys, Giorgio de Chirico, Marcel Duchamp, René Magritte, Christian Marclay, Robert Rauschenberg, Doris Salcedo, Andy Warhol, and many other leading artists. Ranging from uncanny to incantatory to experiential, the works on view are not all without sound, but all invoke silence to shape space or consciousness. The film program, which boasts works by Ingmar Bergman, Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, and Nam June Paik, among others, traces the use of silence and sound in experimental cinema, from the tradition of silent films, to the malleable use of sound, to works that seek to unify the source of both image and sound.

Beginning with early twentieth-century Surrealist paintings by de Chirico and Magritte that explore unseen and inaudible realms of the unconscious, the exhibition moves to artists who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, including Rauschenberg and Beuys, and then to the present with works by Marclay, Tino Sehgal, Doris Salcedo, and others. The exhibition includes a canvas from Rauschenberg's White Paintings series, a primary influence on 4'33” that Cage described as “airports for lights, shadows, and particles.” Marclay, an artist who explores music and sound in a wide range of media, created a new series of works for Silence, inspired by and displayed with several Andy Warhol Electric Chair silkscreen paintings from the 1960s. Marclay was particularly interested in the sign reading “SILENCE” in the background of the Warhol paintings, which for Marclay implies both authority and an audience.

Among some of the show's other notable paintings, sculptures, performances, sound and video works are Robert Morris's Box with the Sound of Its Own Making (1961), a small wooden cube containing the audio recording of its own making; Nauman's neon work Violence Violins Silence (1981-82); documentation of Tehching Hsieh's One Year Performance (1978-79), for which the artist spent an entire year in a cage without speaking, reading, writing, or listening to the radio or watching television; and Kurt Mueller's Cenotaph (2011), a vintage jukebox filled with a hundred recordings of historical moments of silence.

The films included in Silence explore different variants of quiet-aesthetic, revelatory, and sensorial. Including experimental works by Brakhage, Deren, Nathaniel Dorsky, Warner Jepson, Paik, and Barry Spinello, among others, the series reaches from the tradition of silent works, to the malleable use of sound, to works that seek to unify the source of both image and sound. Screening between February 1 and February 27, 2013 the five-program series also includes Bergman's The Silence and Philip Gröning's Into Great Silence, each of which explore spiritual and philosophical implications from their muted observations.

BAM/PFA's presentation of Silence features a host of public programs, including an opening conversation between Toby Kamps, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Menil Collection, and UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner; a three-part series of Sunday morning meditations in the galleries; performances by sound artists Jacob Kirkegaard and Loren Chasse; and a series of L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA events inspired by the theme of silence.

List of Artists and Filmmakers
Rebecca Baron, Ingmar Bergman, Joseph Beuys, Manon de Boer, Stan Brakhage, Marcel Broodthaers, John Cage, Pat Collins, Maya Deren, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Giorgio de Chirico, Ingar Dragset, Marcel Duchamp, Michael Elmgreen, Douglas Goodwin, Philip Gröning, Tehching Hsieh, Warner Jepson, Jennie C. Jones, Jacob Kirkegaard, Rudy Lemcke, René Magritte, Mark Manders, Christian Marclay, Darrin Martin, Van McElwee, Robert Morris, Kurt Mueller, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, Amalia Pica, Robert Rauschenberg, Steve Roden, Robert Russett, Doris Salcedo, Tino Sehgal, Semiconductor, Barry Spinello, Stephen Vitiello, Andy Warhol, Scott Wolniak, Martin Wong

Films: The Sounds of Silence
February 1-February 28
PFA Theater, 2575 Bancroft Way, Berkeley

Friday, February 1, 2013, 7 p.m.
Silence (Pat Collins, Ireland, 2012)
Introduced by Bernie Krause
An aural journey into the psychogeography of place as an Irish sound recordist immerses himself in the lush, wind-driven lands of his former Northern Ireland home, and in its memory laden Gaelic culture. Cork-based director Pat Collins's film is a brooding stew of stunning tableaux, Mac Giolla Bhríde's self-contained presence, and documentary-like encounters with the people of the rugged North. (84 mins)

Sunday, February 3, 2013, 5 p.m.
A Kind of Hush: Experimental Works by Stan Brakhage, Maya Deren, Nathaniel Dorsky, Nam June Paik, Steve Roden, Barry Spinello
Barry Spinello in person
The tradition of silence within experimental media has quietly advanced. Though the audience might confront a similar aural absence, the artist's reasoning behind the rejection of sound differs greatly. This program of avant-garde short films features Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon, Stan Brakhage's The Riddle of the Lumen, Nathaniel Dorsky's Threnody, Nam June Paik's Zen for Film, Steve Roden's four words for four hands and Barry Spinello's Soundtrack. (c. 85 mins )

Friday, February 15, 2013, 9 p.m.
The Silence (Ingmar Bergman, Sweden, 1963)
Introduced by Linda Haverty Rugg
Two sisters, Anna and Ester, are travelling through an unspecified land on the verge of war. Tanks rumble by as if in preparation for some apocalyptic occasion. Due to Ester's declining health, the sisters and Anna's young son seek refuge in a disused hotel, and it is in this baroque but decrepit setting that illness, desire, and attachment play out in an almost incestuous pact. Controversial in its time for its sexual candidness, the third part of Bergman's “God trilogy” seems enveloped by a muffled fatigue. God has left the building and all that remains is a spiritual hush. (96 mins)

Sunday, February 17, 2013, 2 p.m.
Into Great Silence (Philip Gröning, Germany, 2005)
Introduced by Susanna Elm
At the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, monks of the reclusive Carthusian Order live out their days in silence. The daily ritual-the prayers and meals, the walks and labors-establish a quiet and reverential rhythm. German director Philip Gröning spent months amidst the monks, sharing and observing their silence, attuning himself (and us) to the stillness of their devotion. (164 mins)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013, 7 p.m.
Sourcing Sound: Experimental Works by Warner Jepson, Rudy Lemcke, Darrin Martin, Van McElwee, Robert Russett, Semiconductor, Stephen Vitiello, Scott Wolniak
Artists Rudy Lemcke and Darrin Martin in Person
The industrial use of sound matches an effect to its environmental source, heightening naturalism through logical sonic linkages. Experimental media seeks to undermine that logic preferring the disjunctive to the overly determined. This program pursues another path where sound and image are unified by the very medium that transports them. The program features Robert Russett's Primary Stimulus, Stephen Vitiello's Light Reading(s): Visual Mix, Rudy Lemcke's Lightning Field, and Darrin Martin Monograph in Stereo.

Public Programs

Gallery Talk
Wednesday, January 30, 2013, 12 p.m.
In Conversation: Toby Kamps and Dacher Keltner
UC Berkeley psychology professor Dacher Keltner joins Silence co-curator Toby Kamps for a lively improvisational conversation in the galleries.
Included with admission.

Sound Performance: Jacob Kirkegaard and Loren Chasse
Friday, April 5, 2013, 6 p.m.
Jacob Kirkegaard is a Berlin-based artist who focuses on the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time, sound and hearing. His video and sound installation AION (2006) is featured in the Silence gallery exhibition. Portland-based sound artist Loren Chasse creates environmentally based "found sound" performances. Kirkegaard and Chasse will each present sound performances in the Silence galleries.
Included with L@TE admission.

Followed by L@TE: Thingamajigs: Directed by Silence at 7:30 p.m.

Expanded Conversation: Soundscapes
Date and time for this event are to be determined at the time of this writing
Panel discussion featuring musician and acoustic ecologist Bernie Krause, film editor and sound designer Walter Murch, and composer and music presenter Charles Amirkhanian.

L@TE: Friday Nights @ BAM/PFA
Friday, February 22, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
Join us for an unquiet evening of music, theater, and video in this first of three L@TE events presented in conjunction with the exhibition Silence. UC Berkeley's own BareTroupe performs a selection of scenes and songs that touch upon themes of quietude and isolation. Rio Vander Stahl leads a dynamic chamber ensemble in exploring the use of silence in the classical music tradition. And an experimental video work by Christopher Ariza abducts, obstructs, and obscures media newsfeeds. Programmed by Sean Carson.
$7 general admission

Friday, March 22, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
PC Muñoz's Singing Blood: Positively Alphabet Street
PC Muñoz's unique genre-defying projects as an artist and producer are stylistically broad, revealing a sonic explorer equally at home with quirky electronic funk, all-acoustic hip-hop, percussion-heavy improv, spoken word, and contemporary classical. A frequent and enthusiastic collaborator, Muñoz has recorded with cellist Joan Jeanrenaud, rock legend Jackson Browne, dream-pop poet/chanteuse Ingrid Chavez, Prince and the Revolution synth wizard Dr. Fink, and Kulintang virtuoso Danny Kalanduyan, to name a few. For this performance, Muñoz's all-star jazz funk band Singing Blood performs “Positively Alphabet Street,” mash-ups of Prince and Bob Dylan that touch upon the theme of silence. Programmed by Sean Carson.
$7 general admission

Friday, April 5, 2013, 7:30 p.m.
Thingamajigs: Directed by Silence
Thingamajigs performs "Directed by Silence," a newly created collaborative work inspired by the Silence exhibition and the acoustics of our atrium gallery. Thingamajigs is a genre-crossing arts organization that promotes, presents, and performs music created with made and found materials or alternate tuning systems. Founded as an art project in 1997 at Mills College by Edward Schocker and Dylan Bolles, the project was originally conceived as a forum for composers/performers who develop new and unique ways of producing sound, usually with handmade musical instruments. Programmed by Sean Carson.

Prior to the L@TE event, artist Jacob Kirkegaard and Loren Chasse will present a pair of sound performances in the Silence galleries at 6 p.m.
$7 general admission

Sunday, February 10, 2013, 11 a.m.
Guided Meditation with Wes Nisker
Meditate in the galleries with Berkeley Buddhist-about-town Wes “Scoop” Nisker, who leads the first of three hour-long guided meditations offered in partnership with Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County.
Included with admission

Sunday, March 17, 2013, 11 a.m.
Guided Meditation with Anushka Fernandopulle
Anushka Fernandopulle has trained in meditation in the Theravada Buddhist tradition for over twenty years in the U.S. and Asia. Other influences have been mystics from various cultures and traditions, creative arts, nature, service work, progressive social change movements, and modern urban life. She teaches retreats at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, Insight Meditation Society, and around the country.
Included with admission

Sunday, April 7, 11 a.m.
Guided Meditation with Spring Washam
Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She is a teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center and one of the founding members and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation center. Washam has tremendous training in indigenous healing practice, and is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices to diverse communities.
Included with admission

Guided Tours
Guided tours of the exhibition with UC Berkeley graduate student tour guides will be offered on Thursdays at 12:15 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. See the online calendar for the schedule at

Related Materials
By Toby Kamps and Steve Seid, with a contribution by Jenni Sorkin
Published by the Menil Foundation and the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Hardcover, 112 pages; 90 color illustrations
ISBN 978-0-300-17964-4
Available in the Museum Store

Silence is co-organized by the University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive and the Menil Collection, Houston. The exhibition is co-curated by BAM/PFA Video Curator Steve Seid and Toby Kamps, curator of modern and contemporary art, the Menil Collection. The curator in charge of the Berkeley presentation in the galleries is Lucinda Barnes, chief curator and director of programs and collections. Special thanks to all of the filmmakers, particularly Nathaniel Dorsky, Steve Roden, Barry Spinello, and Stephen Vitiello; Joseph Newland at the Menil Collection; and the Academy Film Archive.

Silence is made possible in part by a major grant from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional support is provided by Rena Bransten, Nancy and Joachim Bechtle, the Clammer Family, Chris Desser and Kirk Marckwald, Celeste and Anthony Meier, Abigail Melamed, an anonymous donor, and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.

Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley's primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA's mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.” BAM/PFA presents approximately fifteen art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum's collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.

Visitor Information

BAM/PFA Galleries: 2626 Bancroft Way, just below College Avenue near the UC Berkeley campus.

PFA Theater: 2575 Bancroft Way, just below Bowditch Street on the Berkeley campus.

Gallery and Museum Store Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open L@TE Fridays until 9 p.m. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Gallery Admission: General admission is $10; admission for seniors (65+), disabled persons, non–UC Berkeley students, and ages 13–17 is $7; admission for BAM/PFA members, UC Berkeley students, staff, and faculty, and children under 12 is free. Reservations are required for group visits; for information, rates, and schedule, please e-mail Admission is free on the first Thursday of each month.

PFA Theater Admission: General admission is $9.50; admission for UC Berkeley faculty/staff, non-UC Berkeley students, seniors (65+), disabled persons, 17 & under; admission is $5.50 for BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students. Additional same-day features are $4.00 unless otherwise noted.

L@TE Admission: On L@TE Fridays, general admission to the BAM/PFA galleries is $7 after 5 p.m. Admission is always free for BAM/PFA members and UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff. For updates on L@TE programs and to purchase tickets, visit

Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.


Please note: For more information about Silence please contact Peter Cavagnaro at (510) 642-0365 or

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Posted by admin on November 21, 2012