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Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller: The Poetry Machine and Other Works

Fraenkel Gallery is pleased to present THE POETRY MACHINE & Other Works, by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, featuring the pair’s interactive tribute to the late Leonard Cohen. The Poetry Machine is made from a vintage organ, a collection of speakers and recordings of Cohen reciting dozens of poems from his Book of Longing, many of which have never been publicly released. The piece allows viewers to hear and play Cohen’s voice and texts as a haunting musical instrument. Says Janet Cardiff, it “creates new connections through all of the poems,” and gives participants the ability “to create new poems out of his words.” The installation debuted in an exhibition devoted to Cohen at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal this winter. This will be its first U.S. presentation.

Also on view is Road Trip, an installation of slides made by Bures Miller’s grandfather in the 1950s, during a drive from Vancouver to New York City. Projected from a computer controlled carousel onto a standing screen, the slides show mostly empty landscapes, their color often changed by time. Accompanying them is a two-speaker recording of Cardiff and Bures Miller. In it, the artists consider what the enigmatic photographs might have meant to Anton Bures, who was traveling to New York to see a doctor for the cancer he was fighting. Cardiff and Bures Miller’s open-ended conversation uncovers questions about photography’s role in memory, time and the yearning for permanence.

In Sad Waltz and the Dancer who couldn’t dance, a robotically controlled marionette appears to play piano while a long-haired puppet dances erratically to music by Armenian composer Edward Mirzoyan. The piece premiered at the 14th Istanbul Biennial in 2015.

On view concurrently at the UC Santa Cruz Arboretum and Botanic Garden from April 7 to June 30 is FOREST (for a thousand years…), an audio installation set in a redwood grove that purposes more than 30 speakers to blend natural and manmade sounds. Commissioned for dOCUMENTA 13 in Kassel, Germany, this will be the West Coast debut of the piece, which is presented by UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences, the San Jose Museum of Art, and UCSC’s Arboretum and Botanic Garden.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller are multidisciplinary artists whose work often explores sound. Their installations have been shown at the Metropolitan Museum of Art; MoMA PS1; National Gallery of Canada; and 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, among many others. Their work is in the collections of public institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate, London; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and others.