Magazine article Artforum International

Jason Moran: Luhring Augustine

Magazine article Artforum International

Jason Moran: Luhring Augustine

Article excerpt

Jason Moran



As many a musician or barback can tell you, a live-music nightclub--sadly, today they call them venues--is a strange place during off-hours, whether that is 3 pm or 3 am. Unlike a theater or cinema, which might play to an audience of one, a nightclub requires people; early in the day and very late at night, the nightclub uniquely evokes simultaneous feelings of loss and potential. In "STAGED," Jason Moran--the visionary musician, composer, impresario, and visual artist--set two architecturally scaled sculptures kitty-corner to each other, each a reimagined version of the main stage from one of two historic New York nightclubs central to the history and development of jazz. But instead of the existential emptiness suggested by many previous similarly scaled sculptures-as-space--for example, Bruce Nauman's sport-stadium-bleacher sculptures that miss both the fans and the game--these spaces, these places, started to play to each other, listen to each other, in a kind of call-and-response, remembering and projecting forward.

Moran's homage to sites that no longer exist--which of course feel charged with what is missing; namely, the musicians, their audience, and the buildings--played out the inherently ambivalent story of jazz: a miraculous invention and discipline that has never been given a simple space to inhabit. The question of who jazz is for is still essential for musicians, and for us. The full history of its creation is frequently (and willfully) forgotten or suppressed. Here, though, in the context of visual art, a strange and temporary peace was arrived at. Featuring elegant architectural objects, two very different types of sound reproduction, periodic live performance, and silence as a material, too, Moran's installation allowed one to at least hear a history of form and expression as a lineage that can survive across gaps and erasures. Still, a central point of these works is that we require places, and that what makes all the arts possible are various physical architectures for creator and listener, where reflections, acoustic and otherwise, are absorbed and rebounded idiosyncratically and specifically.

The largest sculpture, STAGED: Savoy Ballroom 1, 2015, is based on the main stage of Harlem's iconic Savoy dance ballroom, with a narrow raised floor for live performance under a sound-amplifying ceiling. …

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