Allora & Calzadilla

Barbara Gladstone, New York

By Claire Breukel | May 29, 2015

“Talking to you makes me think that Man’s descent from the apes hasn’t even started yet.”

Allora & Calzadilla

The reference to evolution in the words of this musical score is significant, as is the choice to have two prepubescent choirboys singing it treble as they move throughout the space to sit, lie and stand upon ten colossal marble slabs. The score lyrics were written by celebrated artist duo Allora & Calzadilla (Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla) to Guarionex Morales-Matos’s composition for their exhibition Fault Lines. The boys’ performance is a bickering call-and-response battle that unfolds throughout the four galleries of Barbara Gladstone gallery in New York, as they traverse the obstacle course of marble steps. More than playful mocking, their words are piercing and harsh alluding to a moment that teeters between innocence and one when their voices might break—as trebles voices inevitably do—transforming them from boyhood to adulthood.

It is the moment between being whole and “breaking” that underlies Fault Lines. The marble slabs have been sourced from an array of geological contexts before being brought to Italy to be cut into angular pieces to create steps that mimic choral risers for the youthful performers in New York. Ranging in color from yellow to black, the marble has formed over thousands of years from impurities that recrystallize under conditions of extreme pressure or heat. Yet despite being susceptible to change only over extreme periods of time, the rock has been extracted, displaced, cut and polished, making the possibility of a fissure occurring real. As a result, despite the contrast between the hard permanence of rock and the temporary sweet melodic voices of the youthful singers, they share in common an inescapable brokenness, and a reality of impermanence.

The conflictive tone of Allora & Calzadilla’s score is purposefully distressing, displacing the youthful treble and perhaps even prompting the process of their evolution to the moment of breaking. Designed as a social experiment, Fault Lines on the one hand suggests that breaking is part of the cycle of life, and on the other it boldly incites dissonance.