Jörg Obergfell

MODULOR LUNAIRE 2014, branches, sheet wood, 7 black and white prints, 
height of object 216 cm, prints each, 70 x 43 cm, installation view Generation & Display, London

For the inaugural exhibition at Generation & Display, artists and composers will create new work in response to the three composite parts of Arnold Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire. During the opening of the show, extracts from the original score and from the newly commissioned compositions will be performed by the Dr K. Sextet, soprano Lesley-Jane Rogers and composer/conductor Ewan Campbell. The exhibition marks the launch of The Pierrot Project, a series of concerts, exhibitions and events that encourage interdisciplinary collaboration between musicians, composers and visual artists.

Schönberg's Pierrot Lunaire incited deeply emotional reactions in its listeners when it debuted in 1912. One critic described it ‘as a series of points, dots, dashes and phrases that sob and scream, despair, explode, exalt and blaspheme’, and it has since become famous for its relentless atonality and wildly melodramatic sprechtstimme (neither speech, nor song, but somewhere in between). The composition sets a selection of 21 poems from Albert Giraud's proto-surrealist collection of the same name to music, pouring fantastical, absinthe-fuelled imagery into a strict rondel rhyme scheme. The artists in this exhibition create pieces similarly wrought with theatricality, drama and comedy using meticulous or mathematical means.

In the concluding part, Pierrot finds peace and journeys home. Jörg Obergfell will respond to this with a sculptural adaptation of Le Corbusier's Modulor, a model akin to da Vinci's vitruvian man that served as a means of establishing the mathematical proportions of the human body in order to improve architectural design. This wooden structure will make its own farcical homecoming as Obergfell travels with it from Ringenberg to London for the exhibition. The Modulor will be assembled in guises defined by its surroundings, and photographed at various stages on its journey. By contorting his figure’s ideal configurations according to the terms of its environment, Obergfell plays with the humour and absurdity that is integral to the figure of Pierrot.

Text by Niamh White