MoMA is pleased to premiere the live performance of Charles Gaines’s Manifestos 2 (2013), in collaboration with The Studio Museum in Harlem. A pioneer of Conceptual art, the Los Angeles–based artist has translated language from four influential speeches or manifestos into musical notation: Malcolm X’s last public speech, made in 1965 in Detroit’s Ford Auditorium; Peace, Power, Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto (1999), by Canadian Mohawk scholar and activist Taiaiake Alfred; “Indocumentalismo Manifesto—an Emerging Socio-Political Ideological Identity” (2010), by Raúl Alcaraz and Daniel Carrillo; and the Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen, written by French activist and writer Olympe De Gouges in 1791. Establishing a relationship between the structures of language and music, Gaines has used a rule-based system, substituting each letter with its corresponding musical note (C, D, E, F, G, A, B) and treating each letter without an equivalent note as a silent musical rest. The scores were then arranged for multiple instruments by Los Angeles composer and Opera Povera director Sean Griffin. As a result, Manifestos 2 explores the ways in which the emotive properties of music affect the content of the manifestos and their interpretation.
For the performance, Griffin will conduct a nine-piece ensemble, bringing the scores to life. The performance is followed by a conversation with Gaines and Griffin; Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, Department of Media and Performance Art, The Museum of Modern Art; and Naima J. Keith, Assistant Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem.
In conjunction with the exhibition Sites of Reason: A Selection of Recent Acquisitions, on view at MoMA through September 28. The performance also coincides with the exhibition Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974–1989, on view at The Studio Museum in Harlem through October 26.