Worksighted/Courtesy of Disjecta

Chiara Giovando has just opened a show at Disjecta, a cavernous north Portland contemporary art center, where she’s spending a year there as curator-in-residence. The exhibition is called “The Book of Scores.” It focuses on how we read, interpret and perform the instructions we get from composers, artists and others. Giovando explains that each of these works forms a score, in its own way.

“What I’m interested in is exploring the materiality of sound as a sculptural material,” Giovando said. “You can’t get away from motion because it’s not a static material, the whole way it operates is in relationship to space. It’s constantly reflecting and refracting off surfaces including our ear.”

The Los Angeles artist Alison O’Daniel dominates the room. O’Daniel and Giovando worked together previously to recreate a 1980 underground rock show that brought together San Francisco’s punk and deaf communities.

“The way the deaf community interfaced with the music was by touching the walls, the amps, the floors and even each other’s bodies,” Giovando said.

The deaf concertgoers described the experience and what they felt to O’Daniel. She went on to translate those impressions into a series of sculptures: a linking chain of silvery triangles; an elongated mobile with hints of bold primary color; and a wooden hoop, suspended with a wire, suggesting a tone frozen in space.

On Oct. 24, another work by O’Daniel will spring to motion and life. Giovando shows an arrow-spiked pattern formed by pieces of linoleum covering the main gallery floor.

“It’s called ‘Skater’s Score,’” Giovando said.
And the plan is to bring in actual skaters. O’Daniel had a Zamboni driver sketch out a path across the gallery floor. A handful of skateboarders will follow those lines on the floor while three violinists play music devised by O’Daniel and Portland composer Ben Kammen.

Worksighted/Courtesy of Disjecta

“The Zamboni patterns direct flow and movement throughout the space of the skateboarders but also becomes a percussive instrument,” Giovando said.

Giovando’s based in Los Angeles. She works in several media — including video and performance. But her most consistent interests have been West Coast avant-garde ideas about how music is performed and the Fluxus movement. Fluxus preached getting art out of museums and galleries and into peoples’ hands.

Even as she was studying these traditions, Giovando felt it wasn’t enough to install avant-garde masterworks by John Cage and Steve Reich on a pedestal.

“It was almost as if the scores had become static objects. These really need to be performed, and for us to not be stuck in the moment of shock and awe from ‘Pendulum Music’ or ‘4’ 33”,’ which were blowing minds at the time.”

Her recent work, including the Disjecta show, involves constant regeneration of avant-garde principals and re-invented scores.

In accord with Disjecta’s method for the curator-in-residence program, she’s working with Oregon artists to develop new work — all over the course of a yearlong residency.

"Is The Earth Itself", Ellen Lesperance

“Is The Earth Itself”, Ellen Lesperance

Worksighted/Courtesy of Disjecta

She walked me through a cluster of works by Portland’s Ellen Lesperance. We passed among speaker boxes playing back a composition another artist, Johannes Lund, wrote for this exhibition.

Prerecorded music played from each box. One for alto sax, trombone in other corner, percussion in center, and baritone sax on the far wall. Listeners can move around the space and experience and recompose the score with their position relative to the sound source.

Giovando said the yearlong arc of her residence at Disjecta makes it possible for her to unpack ideas over a satisfyingly long timeline.

“I’ve been working with sound for a long time but that’s not all I do,” she said.

She said she’s meeting a lot of interesting people. Giovando’s residency continues through May.

“The Book of Scores” will be in view through Nov. 1. If you stop in on Oct. 24, you can see what happens when skaters scatter all over Alison O’Daniel’s installation. The performance begins at 2PM, sharp.