Exhibitions
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Michaela Melián: Chant du Nix

October 10 — November 8, 2020

Michaela Melián (born 1956, based in Hamburg and Munich) combines visual art, music, and pop culture in her works, producing both for classical exhibition spaces and for radio space as public space. "Chant du Nix" is a concertante spatial installation for a loudspeaker audience. 

Via prepared public address loudspeakers typically used in places like e.g. railway stations, the sounds and voices contained in her audio tracks wander through the (Kunstverein’s) space, setting it and the loudspeaker audience in motion. The early days of radio in the Weimar Republic and the resulting separation into serious and light music, the development of various signature musical themes based on well-known original melodies, and the accompanying – and still current – media debates form the basis for the installation-based listening and discursive space developed by Melián in "Chant du Nix".
The projection of a shell drawing traces the concrete space of the waiting room while at the same time promising an opportunity to hear the world and the sensual experience of something not visually perceptible. Repeatedly over the course of the roughly one-hour audio track, a voice refers to the auspicious listening space that emerges when a shell is held to the ear.

The Bahnhof connects up with this narration. It is a public space with a diverse but not necessarily focused audience; it promises contact with the world. Like radio – both being comparatively old but still important technologies – its rhythm and structure allow us to continue experiencing mechanization and the resulting modification of public space. They mark the disembodiment of voice and hearing; the transportation from one context into another. The “unbodied humming” that is likewise part of the soundtrack does not remain disembodied but rather forms another body, shaped by (sonic) waves, movements, and anonymous collectivity.
How should radio handle this space and the bodies being addressed? Should it educate? Entertain? What kinds of impacts develop in this public space in which everyone can participate? These are questions that were posed by participants in an intense media debate from a century ago and are still asked of us today.