M A R Y M c D O N N E L L

re-lay 2018


re-lay1, re-lay2

At times jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch and I get together for a ‘session’, he plays, I draw. In early 2016 at the start of one session Fred held out a fistful of notated manuscripts, “additional paper, if you want to do something with them”. In that moment I found it impossible to mark on what-felt-like sacred texts, and set them aside. Back in my studio, by chance I laid the sheets next to a tangled mass of 70+ year-old colored threads my mother had recently given me. The tangled mass of color, the parallel staff lines,  hearing Bach in my head made my synaesthetic brain fire, and I dove in, drawing all over the manuscripts with both hands, eyes closed, while replaying recordings of the Bach partitas, articulating my marks in thread.

This work was shown in Vienna May 2018, in two interrelated exhibitions, re-lay1 and re-lay2. The newly augmented manuscripts, now a visual score, were played at Echoraum, Vienna by musicians Elisabeth Harnik (pianist) and Elisabeth Flunger (percussionist) in a live performance opening night.  The scores, spanning 39 feet toggle on an armature allowing viewing both the front and backsides, just as both were used by the musicians for the improvisation.

re-lay1 featured seven oil paintings and a stitched 13-page score by Austrian composer Reinhold Schinwald. His score, ohne titel (2010) was based on my painting Untitled (2006). The now-stitched visual score was re-interpreted by Schinwald and the new composition premiered opening night at Kunstraum Sellemond, Vienna. Additional musical works by contemporary composers Peter Ablinger, Simon-Steen Anderson and Christoph Herndler were performed at the opening, as all of these composers draw heavily on visual art for conception in their work.

—Mary McDonnell

Curator/Producer büro lunaire, Kunstraum Sellemond and Echoraum
special thanks to CCAndratx, Nathaniel Lieb and Raouf Sarwari