'Art or Sound' is the Prada Foundation's new synaesthetic Venice show

The Prada Foundation's latest exhibition 'Art or Sound'
The Prada Foundation's latest exhibition 'Art or Sound' opens today in Venice and offers a symphony for the senses, epitomised by this hybrid piece titled 'The Spirit of Yamaha' by Arman, 1997, The Arman Studio Archives, New York
(Image credit: The Arman Studio Archives, New York)

In the midst of Venice's fast-paced Architectural Biennial, 'Art or Sound', the Prada Foundation's current show (opens in new tab), feels like something of an intellectual's amusement park: poker-faced journalists find themselves stepping into pieces, pressing on buttons, playing rather than observing.

This is precisely the kind of boundary-shattering the exhibition's curator Germano Celant (opens in new tab) (who famously coined the term 'Arte Povera', or poor art), was looking for. After all, in today's highly controlled art world, where does one draw a line between work and play, art and commodity, the intellectual and the emotional?

Sprawling over the Foundation's majestic three storeys, this 'theatre of things', as Celant put it, is laid out as a jolly multi-media, interactive display of artworks, functional objects, and imaginary instruments. They range from 17th century musical boxes to early 20th century experimental trumpets by craftsmen of the time; see Man Ray's 'Violon d'Ingres' (1924) to John Cage's 'Water Walk' (1959), as well as contemporary work such as Loris Gréaud 'Crossfading Suitcase' (2004)  - allowing, again, for a disruption between high and low.

To Celant, the sense of hierarchy is also present in the relationship between art and sound: 'The museum has become a vision-centric territory where all non-visual senses are repressed,' he said of the show.

The works chosen are missing a dimension if you don't listen: Laurie Anderson's 'Numbers Runners' (1979) for example, recreating a typical American phonebox, only becomes an entirely fuller proposition when the viewer picks up the receiver to hear the artists existential questions.

'I wanted to reinject life into the clinical, aseptic visual art space,' explained Celant about his choice to hold a series of performances by younger, often local artists such as Ricardo Berreta. 'In order to generate creative birth, art should be a labyrinth of senses.'

Functional objects, imaginary instruments

Sprawling over the Foundation's majestic three storeys, this 'theatre of things', as curator Germano Celant put it, is laid out as a jolly multi-media, interactive display of artworks, functional objects, and imaginary instruments. Pictured: 'Oracle' by Robert Rauschenberg, 1962-65.

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

To Celant, the sense of hierarchy is also present in the relationship between art and sound

The sensory exhibit encourages visitors to press on buttons and play rather than simply observe. This percussion work is titled 'Echi di suoni e cani che abbaiano' by Eliseo Mattiacci, 1983

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

The museum has become a vision-centric territory where all non-visual senses are repressed

From left to right: 'Metronome' by Salvador Dali, 1944, 'Indestructible Object' by Man Ray, 1923 (1965), and 'Silent Metronome' by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 2005

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Pyrophone, Typical American phonebox

'Pyrophone' by Georges Frédéric Kastner, circa 1876. 

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Chiming Clock with Iron Case

In the foreground: 'Chiming Clock with Iron Case' by Jean Dubois au Puy, circa early 17th century, 'Untitled' sculpture by Alexander Calder, 1940 and 'Composition in Gray' by Theo van Doesburg, 1919

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Art or Sound', the Prada Foundation's current show

'I wanted to reinject life into the clinical, aseptic visual art space,' explained Celant about his choice to hold a series of performances by younger, often local artists. 'In order to generate creative birth, art should be a labyrinth of senses,' he added

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

Singing Bird Cage With Clock

From the left: 'Singing Bird Cage With Clock' by Pierre Jaquet-Droz. circa 1785 and 'Orchestrion Accordeo Jazz' by Amelotti, circa 1920. 

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano)

The façade of the Prada Foundation in Venice

The façade of the Prada Foundation in Venice

(Image credit: Attilio Maranzano.)

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Prada Foundation (opens in new tab)
Ca' Corner Della Regina
Venice

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