Critics’ Picks

View of “Anri Sala,” 2016.

New York

Anri Sala

New Museum
235 Bowery
February 3 - April 10

“Answer Me,” the titular command of Anri Sala’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, falls urgently on the ear. Teeming with possibility, this aurally immersive show, which presents nearly two decades of video installations as well as sculptures, photographs, and drawings, scintillates and reverberates. From documentary accounts detailing loss and disaffection, such as Intervista (Finding the Words), 1998, and Nocturnes, 1999, or the relationships between disused, politically charged architecture and the present, such as Dammi i colori (Give Me the Colors), 2003, and Answer Me, 2008, Sala synthesizes imagery with verbal and nonverbal communication into a syntactically elegant exploration of collective memory.

In Ravel Ravel, 2013, two disembodied left hands—which belong to pianists Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and Louis Lortie—reinterpret the French composer’s sinister Piano Concerto in G. Their exquisite movements correspond and clash across two channels, which creates a riveting pas de deux. In the work’s pendant, Unravel, 2013, a DJ, Chloé Thévenin, tries synchronizing Bavouzet’s and Lortie’s recorded arrangements on a pair of turntables, distorting our emotional perceptions of time through her sonic experimentations.

In 3-2-1, 2011/16, saxophonist André Vida riffs off a video installation, Long Sorrow, 2005, featuring musician Jemeel Moondoc, improvising out of a window of the Langer Jammer that gives the work its title, a decrepit-looking modernist housing project in West Berlin. They create an elegiac duet for a corroding edifice—and the “good intentions” whence it came. Here as elsewhere in this exhibition, Sala’s appeal to the void of time and history finds gravity in the sound of its own echo.