James Putnam
Biography # Press # Contact # Credits
  Inventory Suscribe to James Putnam's newsletter  
# Interviews
# Publications
# Exhibitions
# Conferences
# Talk & Debate
# Salon
# Collaborations
‘Opera Per L’Ara Pacis – Brian Eno & Mimmo Paladino, March/June 2008 at Museo dell’ Ara Pacis, Rome

This installation is the first site-specific contemporary work created for the new spaces of the Museo dell’Ara Pacis designed by Richard Meier. Mimmo Paladino’s circular steel sculpture frames the Ara Pacis and, like the monument itself is visible even from the street outside. There are two large sculptural wall installations in the lower gallery – one with hundreds of shoe lasts and birds and another of fragmentary human figures interspersed with charcoal wall drawings. Also a composite 35-metre long "Train", an assemblage of terracotta elements on steel racking placed diagonally across the width of the space.   At the centre of the gallery, a niche contains a human figure in bronze, from whose back emerge branches, and the inner walls of the central area are frescoed with red crosses and other geometrical motifs on a white background.

Brian Eno’s  work comprises layers of music that move in space independently of one other to create a richly textured soundscape. Often referred to as ‘ambient’ or ‘generative’ music, the various layers float freely, joining together in continually different unpredictable and unrepeatable combinations. Interwoven with Paladino’s installation, the sound is distributed from over twenty portable CD players and various speaker units. A different disk is produced for each player that represents a unique layer of sound composed of a mix of several tracks. Using the control facility on each CD player called ‘auto repeat’ and ‘ ‘random-shuffle’, the separate tracks are activated in unpredictable order to achieve infinite permutations of sound in space. The individual speakers installed at Ara Pacis range from carefully concealed boxes, to more visible ‘grid’ units and Eno’s characteristic speaker flowers. Like sculptural objects these consist of tiny chassis speakers attached to tall metal stands that sway in response to the sound they emit. The overall configuration of sound at Ara Pacis provides a spatial dimension beyond stereo so that the musical composition assumes the form of a ‘sound sculpture’.

Eno and Paladino take the idea of transforming the structure of their works using repeated fragments, to embody inter-relationships in new dimensions of time and space. In expanding and building up the individual sounds or motifs, these fragments are reunited to become a consistent and harmonious totality. They establish complex and multifaceted connections that can be read formally as well as emotionally, physically and psychologically. This interplay of various elements in a rhythmic pattern with the spaces or intervals between them, links the orchestrated with the random. In experiencing the Ara Pacis installation the viewer, also the listener, is not simply in the work as a part of it but still in the role of seeing and hearing it by being inside of it. Both Eno and Paladino begin from the concept of destructuring their works, developing them through the reiteration of motifs characteristic of their creative inspiration. By expanding or compressing individual sounds or motifs, and bringing together the component fragments, the two artists attain an overall harmony.


For catalogue visit the Publications page

For further info visit the Ara Pacis website

Mimmo Paladino installation
Mimmo Paladino installation
Brian Eno - Speaker Flowers

back to exhibitions back to top