When Music Meets the Art World: 6 Multidisciplinary Works

02/08/2012 12:03 PM |


On Sunday, avant-dance musician Nicolas Jaar performed a five-hour-long afternoon of music and visual art in the museum’s “Performance Dome.” Aided by numerous collaborators, the piece combined recording, sampling, and looping techniques with analogue instrumentation and sound-derived video. Given that Jaar’s more pop-oriented music still hovers around the fringes of the abstract, it’s not surprising to see him making a move in the direction of the art world. What follows are six others musicians or bands who have also, either through multidisciplinary work or collaboration, found themselves occupying a similar space.

David Byrne
In recent years, David Byrne has attracted as much attention for his non-musical activities as he has for the songs that he’s written. Besides his 2009 book The Bicycle Diaries, he’s also become increasingly involved with large-scale artwork. 2008’s Playing the Building transformed the Battery Maritime Building into a strange, ornate sort of musical instrument. And for part of last autumn, his Tight Spot could be seen below the High Line.

Beauty Pill
The Chad Clark-fronted, Washington, DC-based band Beauty Pill chose an unorthodox way to make their return to the recording studio after an 8-year layoff. The recording of their new album took place at the Arlington-based performance space Artisphere, and the group made the sessions accessible to the general public. If the song “Afrikaner Barista” is any indication, the group’s knack for writing impeccably catchy left-field pop songs has only increased with time.

Pinetop Perkins
Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s first solo American museum show was called Song, and Kjartansson himself can be seen making music in many of the works contained therein. One of the videos, “The Man,” features the late blues musician Pinetop Perkins, at the time aged 97, playing songs on a slightly out-of-tune piano and telling brief stories from his life.


Sunn 0)))
The members of Sunn 0))) don cloaks and stand before massive stacks of amplifiers to summon some of the loudest music made today. Some of that has appeared on their albums or their collaborations with the likes of Merzbow or Boris; they’ve also dabbled in the fine-art world, providing music to accompany installations by the artist Banks Violette. Violette’s artwork has, in at least one instance, also taken direct inspiration from the band’s onstage setup. In the image above, the band’s on-stage gear, covered entirely in salt by the artist.

Agnostic Front
Matthew Barney’s films have included musical contributions from the likes of Will Oldham and Björk—musicians who achieve a similar balance between large-scale popularity and the pursuit of esoteric themes and images. But the third installment in Barney’s Cremaster Cycle also features appearances by the long-running New York hardcore bands Agnostic Front and Murphy’s Law.