For Feldman: symétrie inachevée

February 16 - March 15, 2008

The exhibit will present the first six works of an extensive project by Mario Côté. He has embarked upon a translation into visual signs of the musical score Crippled Symmetry (1983) by Morton Feldman, a musical composition for three musicians and six instruments. The artist’s self-imposed challenge is to confront musical notation, which structures time and inscribes it onto the surface of a page. This project continues the work Côté has done since 2001: Studio d’enregistrement 1 and 2, which were exhibited at Galerie Trois Points in 2002 and 2005, respectively; and, Détails d’enregistrement, which was presented at the Cottard-Olsson Gallery, Stockholm, in 2005. The artist has also participated in collective exhibitions, including Pause at Galerie Graff, and Code of Color at Sopa Fine Art, Kelowna, in 2007.

Morton Feldman (1926–1987) is a major US composer. Many of his works were dedicated to artists, such as For Philip Guston, For Franz Kline, The Rothko Chapel, For John Cage, and to the music of films on Pollock and De Kooning. Crippled Symmetry was composed from a four-note reduced material. The performance duration can easily extend beyond 95 minutes, which is characteristic of this composer’s work. Feldman liked to compare composing to carpet-making in the Middle-East. Like a painter, he approached his music like a surface: “My music should be called a time canvas, one on which I imprint, more or less, a musical hue.”

Thus, each work of art is made up of 35 small surfaces, and represents approximately one page of the composer’s musical score. Each of the 35 small surfaces of the canvas-page represents one measure or bar, the basic unit of musical composition. In its own way, it represents the primary space of composition, which Côté endows with other visual forms or signs. There may be grounds for establishing a link between these multiple symmetric figures that encounter tonal and rhythmic variations, and the geometric and fluid signs that unfurl over the first six works of the For Feldman series.

It’s interesting to note that the score of Crippled Symmetry is written in a way that lets the three musicians interpret their musical lines individually, without having to be aware of the other musicians. Therefore, listening to the music and reading the score do not give us an exact idea of how the sequence of musical events will synchronize. Côté‘s pictorial project attempts to unite into one musical time, these events that are interpreted separately by the musicians. The synchronism of sounds produced by the instruments is shown on each of the small painted surfaces and, using a completely other system, translates the impression of unstructured time that is revealed by the music. The musical notation and the pictorial sign meet, harmonize or confront each other, and create a whole new plane of composition. This project aims to immerse us in the experience of repetition, motif development, and shape rhythms. Côté‘s stakes in this first portion of the For Feldman / Symétrie inachevée exhibit are no less than to render visible an auditory experience and to pull off a pictorial event.

Press release