Text by Alice Bradshaw
This exhibition presented by Leeds based Pavilion marks the end of Céline Condorelli‘s journey as ‘Tiger’ in a collective experiment framed by British avant-garde composer Cornelius Cardew‘s score The Tiger’s Mind (1967). The five presented objects in the exhibition are Condorelli’s Additionals produced in response to the relations between Tiger and the other characters in The Tiger’s Mind.
Cornelius Cardew (1936-81) developed a philosophy of experimental notation and indeterminacy. “The merit of ‘The Tiger’s Mind’ is that it demands no musical education and no visual education; all it requires is a willingness to understand English and a desire to play (in the widest sense of the word, including the most childish).”1
Additionals is located in a de-commissioned TV studio at the University of Leeds. The 1970s architecture has a bleak air of abandonment and neglect despite being in the centre of a vast and busy campus. Navigating the external walkways and steps and then internal corridors to the temporary exhibition space is like going back in time to another era.
On entering the space, a presumably sensor-activated fan starts blowing a metallic gold curtain from the corner outwards, rhythmically rustling and glistening behind a stack of speakers. This metallised space blanket is entitled Structure for Communicating with Wind, “carrying Wind’s news to Tiger.” The sounds emitted from the 10-channel speaker stack are quiet and various sound effects and voices. The mountainous stack is entitled Structure for Listening and responds to the character Tree.
Structure for Preparing the Piano is a fabricated bench-seat of plywood, MDF and steel with a large angle-poise industrial looking light fitting which also appears to be on a timer or sensor. The exhibition handout identifies this Additional as responding to Mind, narrating “it is clear that [Mind’s] body, and the chair supporting it are as much his instrument as the piano he plays with his fingers.”
Structure for Reading is a grey-painted Ercol chair fixed atop a wooden library ladder, resembling a domesticated life guard lookout. It’s purpose is denoted as avoiding a possible climbing accident where the character Amy can safely read up in Tree’s branches. Next to this is Structure for Public Speaking – a steel framework with a clipboard welded at about waist height and a high orange-tinted perspex panel tilted at about 45 degrees to mirror a speaker standing in the frame. The transparency of the glass is to “prevent the trap of a ‘singular truth’ [whilst] supporting Circle’s multiple mirroring and framing of Amy’s reading body.”
Condorelli’s quasi-functional objects are presented with an additional narrative to the existing score from which they are derived. Encountering this project-concluding exhibition of a multi-layered collaboration involving an external, abstract narrative is a potentially onerous task to digest the complex contextualisation. The objects rely on knowledge of this context somewhat, provided in part by the supporting exhibition literature, but also function as an installation representing meta-narrative.
The absence of the characters referenced in relation to the objects, combined with the denoted object functionality, brings attention to the role audience who are so far additional to the narrative. In drawing upon Cardew’s graphical notation, and emphasis on interpretation by the performer rather than the composer, the role of audience as performer is suggested in which the objects become a system of notation for interpretation in the physical space.
Alice Bradshaw is an artist, curator, researcher and writer based in West Yorkshire.