Dara Friedman: Musical

About the Exhibition

Midtown Manhattan is the stage for Musical, a series of spontaneous actions orchestrated by artist and filmmaker Dara Friedman (b.1968, Bad Kreuznach, Germany). From dawn to dusk, and occasionally even in the middle of the night, office workers, mothers, schoolchildren, taxi drivers, doormen, tourists, divas, and grandparents will break into song, creating unexpected musical events and serendipitous urban moments for all who encounter them. Throughout the course of the project, nearly one hundred individual actions will take place throughout the day and night, weekdays only, in the blocks between Grand Central Station and Central Park South, and between Broadway and Park Avenue.

Dara Friedman, who lives and works in Miami, is best known for her film and video installations, in which she uses the techniques of structuralist filmmaking to depict the lushness, ecstasy, and energy of everyday life. She often distills, syncopates, reverses, loops, or otherwise alters familiar sounds and sights, drawing attention to the distinct sensory acts of hearing and seeing. Whether her work portrays a series of narrative fragments or a single evocative scene repeated over and over, Friedman heightens the emotional impact by cutting directly to the film’s climax in order to, as she puts it, “get to the part you really care about.”

In Musical—her first live, performance-based work—Friedman continues her exploration of universal human experience, focusing on the emotional power of sound and, in particular, its capacity to instantly transform one’s mood or sense of reality. The project plays upon the vitality of city life, especially on the crowded streets of midtown Manhattan, where unexpected and memorable encounters can be a daily occurrence. Friedman, who notes that she wants to “turn the volume up on the song that’s going on in your head as you’re walking down the street,” is interested in blurring the traditional separation between art and life, and between artist and audience. She envisions the project like a series of pebbles thrown into a glassy lake—each performance will cause a ripple effect that lasts for a while, and then the city will return to business as usual.

Over the course of several weeks, the nearly one hundred performances that constitute Musical tap into and add to the spirit of the streetscape, entering into the city’s collective consciousness. The locations and times of the performances are unannounced, and each one appears to be unplanned; most passersby do not know that what they are seeing is part of something larger.

Dara Friedman’s film, Musical, is a 48-minute orchestration of sixty singing performances that took place on the streets of Manhattan last fall, commissioned by the Public Art Fund. For three weeks, Friedman (b.1968, Bad Kreuznach, Germany) invited ordinary New Yorkers to burst into song on street corners, in coffee shops, museums and train stations. This film records those performances, creating a sprawling American musical.

Public Art Fund and Gavin Brown’s enterprise are pleased to co-present this first outdoor screening of Musical in Riverside Park South, as part of Summer on the Hudson, a program of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Musical was premiered in April 2008 by Public Art Fund and presented later that month in the Grand Concourse at Grand Central Terminal, one of the film’s locations. The film was also shown during the month of June at Gavin Brown’s enterprise.




Between Grand Central Station, Central Park South, Broadway, and Park Avenues

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