Kevin Beasley creates densely layered sculptures and sound-based performances that form immersive tactile experiences. With microphones embedded in cast plaster objects dragged across the gallery floor, or arranged in fleets to capture the sound of the artist’s movement, Beasley emphasizes the physical nature of sound, both in the mechanical waves by which sound travels, and in the insistence of one’s presence in the creation and experience of noise. The artist focuses on the personal memories we each bring to our experiences in both his performances and his sculptures, embedding them with objects and sounds imbued with personal experience. Beasley’s 2012 sound performance at MoMA featured the artist in the museum’s central atrium processing the voices of deceased rappers into cacophonous wails that shook the walls of the museum itself.
For the High Line, the artist will install and play a new sound composition at the 12th Avenue Overlook, on the High Line at West 30th Street and 12th Avenue. Over the few months leading up to the performance, Beasley traversed the High Line, recording sounds from around the park – from crickets chirping in the thicket at West 21st Street, to the evolving sound of various construction sites, to the meandering traffic on the West Side Highway. Beasley took greatest interest in the convergence of sounds at the rail yards, due to the wide open soundscape enabled by the lack of skyscrapers. In an attempt to engage one of the few remaining open-air pockets in Manhattan, the artist will amplify, accentuate, and process these recordings. Furthermore, each performance will be recorded and layered on top of the next, creating a changing, open-ended composition. Beasley says he imagines the work’s title as a score, each performance as a stanza, and the site as the medium or notes that fill the score.
Photos by Liz Ligon.