Marlborough Contemporary

19 November 2014 - 10 January 2015 Private View: 18 November 2014, 6-8 pm

Marlborough Contemporary is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by leading internationally-acclaimed Portuguese artist João Onofre.

At the centre of the exhibition will be Onofre’s new film Tacet – a reinterpretation of experimental composer John Cage’s iconic ‘silent’ work, 4’33’’. Cage originally composed 4’33’’ in 1952 to be interpreted by any combination of instruments, but with instructions for the performers not to play throughout the four minutes and thirty-three seconds of the score. The ambient sounds occurring in the space during this time become part of the piece.

The Latin term ‘tacet’, after which the film is named, is the sole instruction in Cage’s musical score, meaning ‘it is silent’. As in Cage’s piece, the beginning of Onofre’s film is marked by the performer's entrance and the pianist João Aboim closing the piano lid. However, in a divergence from Cage’s instruction, the pianist sets the piano alight.The gradually building fire becomes the dominant sound and a startling image in contrast to the classical scene. Cage famously began making works for prepared piano in 1940, where elements were interposed inside the piano itself for performance.  Onofre’s fire becomes an example of such preparation.

The other works in the exhibition are marked by distinct mediums, but are in some ways interconnected.  In a series of aquatints – a print medium more appropriate for making multiple copies of a work, rather than this unique series – Onofre converts the Universal Declaration of Human Rights together with an unknown image into binary code.

Elsewhere, Onofre has adapted a series of readymade wind chimes that are inspired by the four elements; earth, fire, air, water, converting them into a square configuration of lamps.  One of the chimes has been retuned to the notes, D.E.A.D. The work alludes to Bruce Nauman’s performance from 1968, Violin Tuned D.E.A.D.

A small-scale photograph of the Portuguese parliament is embossed with an enigmatic and almost invisible haiku, possibly alluding to Portugal’s financial crisis and the state of Europe since 2008. It also hints at a forthcoming film project to be shot in the parliament.

Preceding this exhibition at Marlborough Contemporary, Onofre’s Box sized DIE featuring... (2007-2014), showed in London for the first time in June. The sculpture references Tony Smith’s pioneering minimalist sculpture Die (1962) having identical dimensions to Smith’s work. In Onofre’s interpretation, the steel cube comes to life with a regular live set from a local Death Metal band, who play inside the sealed cube until they run out of air. The sculpture was positioned outside the City of London landmark, the ‘Gherkin’, and was activated by London based Death Metal band, Unfathomable Ruination. Box sized DIE has toured extensively through Europe at venues including Unlimited, Art Basel; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA) and Fundação de Serralves, Porto.

Tacet continues at Marlborough Contemporary until 10 January 2015.

João Onofre (Lisbon, 1976), studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Lisbon and concluded his MA in Fine Arts at Goldsmiths College in London. He has had numerous solo exhibitions in museums and galleries internationally, namely: MoMA PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2002); Museu do Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal (2003 and 2012); Kunsthalle Wien, Project Space Karlsplatz, Wien (2003); Magazin 4, Bregenz (2004); Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona (2011); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2011); Neuer Kunstverein Wien, Vienna (2013).

His works are held in both public and private collections worldwide, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. He currently lives and works in Lisbon.

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João Onofre, Tacet, 2014. Single channel HD video, colour, sound. 7'40", variable dimensions.