Tennessee Waltz/Marianne Heske at QB
Tennessee Waltz at QB Gallery (Oslo)
All wet, hey, you might need to raincoat
Shakedown, dreams walking in broad daylight
Three hundred sixty five degrees . Burning down the house.
Talking Heads from the Speaking in Tongues album, 1983
The sound we hear walking into the room is the honeyed voice of Patti Page and her
Tennessee Waltz. Precisely a love song with the noise of the rustle of an old record, which is obsessively repeated. A love story of abandonment from the fabulous’ 50s. An age that reminds us of the Cold War in a time that does not want to become a photocopy of our past. A white noise that recalls the intense smell of fire, which consumed all these songs, that consumed all our music. The enchantment for Art as stated by conceptualism (conceptual theories) remains the same in his presence or in his absence. We stand in front of this black tracks now immersed in their ashes. Ashes to ashes sang David Bowie for an audience always ready to succumb to the charm of the ruins, and the melody of an old song. A sound installation or a visual installation? Here, the dream of zero degrees for an immediate relation with art just magically happens like in many successful pieces of Marianne Heske. It has the effect of the silences of John Cage, or is it Cage‘s silences that imitates the formats of Pop music?
A wink to his famous 4’33 pieces and one to Woodie Guthrie the folk singer that had a great admiration for the minimalist composer. Nothing out of the ordinary, but art after Pop and in the era of mechanical reproduction it ends up looking like something already seen and already listened. Not this! On the floor and in the air is another disorienting and generous gesture of an artist who operates by dedicating herself to a transfer of feelings, without being sentimental. Only by simple and minimal means, and for this reason so effective. (efficient?) The nine hundred charred vinyl records in the new installation by Marianne Heske, have the effect of Cage’s prepared pianos.
She has collected them as fossil matter, rescued from a house that burned down, just as when she works with buildings and nature. A site-specific feeling brings us memories of formats that have marked many people’s lives. We are listening and watching as she (Marianne) composes memories and how they all resound together in a subliminal melody. It is a philosophical DJ set that binds the audience to the materiality of what his played by the image. We almost return to the origins of silent cinema with Heske’s minimalist score. Almost like a serial music composer descending from her studio in Oscarsgate. Automatic for the People, as the title of an R.E.M album.
She invites the audience to ‘take a walk on the wild side’ with the conceptual awareness of her art. Heske has collected not only an entire collection of burned vinyls, but the memory of many other people, spaces and forms. ‘Burning down the house’, was a successful song, that came to my mind, and perhaps it was destroyed and lies in this pile?
Tennnesse Waltz is an invitation to dance a last waltz, to immerse oneself in the epiphany of Marianne Heske’s art. This is not a romantic image, against all the clichés of today practices and for the immediacy and strength of her work. Like a ‘private dancer’, Marianne Heske knows that it is necessary to leave the public in the company of her thoughts, with the aftermath of her ideas rather than with the materiality of her work.
Ivo Bonacorsi Oslo, December 2017
Images courtesy of QB.