Iván Navarro

March 11 - May 13, 2017
Paris - Beaubourg

Selected works
Press release -

Iván Navarro is presenting Fanfare, an immersive journey through previously unseen works exploring light, sound and language, confronting the viewer with issues of representation of power and sensorial perception.

Connecting optical and audio effects, Iván Navarro plunges visitors into utter darkness, surrounded by neon and mirror sculptures that also appear as percussion instruments. With his new work, the artist probes the ambiguities of language and the social power of music.

At the center right of the soundless electronic percussion band, a double-sided bass drum uses light and mirrors to spell out an infinitely reflected onomatopoeic word, with a closely related onomatopoeia appearing on the reverse face of the drum like a distorted echo: Blow becomes Bomb in a dual ambivalence, both formal and linguistic. Slap, Slam, Bang and Beat, illuminated “sounds” that punctuate the visit, evoking celebration as well as guerrilla warfare, aggression as well as resistance. The work produces a visual representation of sound while simultaneously removing and negating the original function of the instruments; ‘playing a song’ in the absence of sound. The inherent silence and stillness of these artworks creates an uncanny perception of audio and movement, exploring the relationship between sight and sound.

The polysemy of the word ‘fanfare’, encompassing the raucous joy of traditional songs as well as the rigor of military bands, finds an echo in the musical instruments that Navarro has subverted. Born in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship, Navarro has endlessly examined issues of power and control, researching the way sound and language can serve as tools for political control, but equally for insurrection.

Also as part of this project Navarro presents a new series of sculptures called CymbalsBreak, Crack, Crash, Crush Hit, Kick, Knock, Scratch and Smack - made of a round mirror with an etched word on its surface and an actual cymbal stand, that are part of a larger investigation that started with the piece Drums (2009), also presented in the small project room of the gallery.

The Music Room IV is part of an ongoing series of constructed environments for active listening, created in collaboration with artist Courtney Smith. Here, the artists have created a wooden fort-like sculpture whose latticed exterior is paneled with album covers from all over the world, each one a representation of revolutionary outcry.  The other side of the sculpture reveals a dark, padded concavity for visitors to nestle and yield to the experience of listening. Speakers pipe music deep into the nook of the sculpture, creating a concentrated listening environment within, yet sheltered from, the visual cacophony of the musical light sculptures.  The music played is the music seen, a continuous loop of songs of universal protest and celebration which in sum form a unified voice of human resistance in the face of authoritarian oppression.

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