`Cram' series packs sound, politics into contemporary art

Installations challenge conventional concepts


Museums / Literature

April 14, 2005|By Glenn McNatt | Glenn McNatt,SUN ART CRITIC

Just when you thought you'd finally got the hang of the art of our time, along comes Chris Gilbert, contemporary art curator at the Baltimore Museum of Art, with three "sound installations" that challenge conventional definitions of art all over again.

Sound Politics, the third of four experimental exhibitions in Cram Sessions, the museum's contemporary art series, explores the political dimension of pure sound "both as a device for claiming public space and, alternatively, as a means for creating and encouraging cultures of dissent," Gilbert writes in the show's tabloid-sized brochure.

The three installations that make up the show, by Renee Green, the activist collective Ultra-red and Mayo Thompson, each explore a different aspect of sound's political potential.

Green's multi-channel video work, "Wavelinks," explores music and art as spaces for cultural exchange. Los Angeles-based Ultra-red uses sound to claim and transform space, while Thompson is represented by videos of his collaborations with the conceptual art group Art & Language.

Like previous Cram Sessions, Sound Politics takes up the most adventurous art of the moment for scrutiny. The idea here is that sound can have artistic uses beyond the familiar ones such as music - pop or classical - talk radio and movie soundtracks. By implication, the project is also an investigation into whether art, broadly conceived, could bring about social change and, if so, how that might happen.

As with previous Cram Sessions installments, there will be workshops, performances, lectures and panel discussions with the artists. The events take place each Saturday this month, starting at 2 p.m.

The exhibition runs through May 1. The museum is at 10 Art Museum Drive. Hours are 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Admission is $7 adults, $5 students and seniors. Call 410-396-7100, or visit www.artbma.org.

For more arts events, see Page 36.

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