Critics’ Picks

View of “Sound Spill,” 2012.

View of “Sound Spill,” 2012.

The Hague

“Sound Spill”

Groenewegje 136
January 7–February 11, 2012

In the work of British artist Haroon Mirza, sounds are at least as important as images. For the past few years Mirza has been making installations out of a diverse array of objects (such as bouncing nuggets of gold and wobbly record players) and instruments (often electronic), using them to create tones and notes that give every part of the work new meaning, both visual and auditory. The exhibition “Sound Spill,” cocurated by Mirza, veers in a surprising new direction. Here, Mirza and the other two artist-curators, Thom O’Nions and Richard Sides, compose with the work of multiple other artists, and the pieces they have included were obviously selected more for their sonic appeal than for their visual qualities.

There are two sets of work in the gallery. The first brings together two videos by Guy Sherwin and Nina Canell and two installation pieces by Sides and Torsten Lauschmann. It is immediately clear what Mirza and his cocurators have in mind; the images seem disconnected but are linked by their sound tracks, which merge to form a driving, pulsing composition. This effect is even more striking in the second part, in which Gary Hill’s Around and About, 1980, is combined with Sherwin’s Railings, 1977, and Alex Heim’s Untitled (Dog), 2006. They form a weirdly perfect ensemble: With Sherwin as the rhythm section, Heim on organ, and Hill providing the voice, the result is a riveting composition, the perfect accompaniment to the unsettling imagery in the videos. Taken as a whole, the exhibition is above all a first-class Haroon Mirza creation; he uses the videos of his fellow artists to produce an original work that far exceeds the sum of its parts.

Translated from Dutch by David McKay.