Cover image of the review

The Score

30 Sep 2017
1 Aug - 5 Nov 2017

One of the things I enjoy most about going to an orchestral performance are the moments when the musicians onstage complete their final warm-ups, exercises and tunings. Being not yet focused into a single force, the performers’ last-minute preparations are individual and not precisely coordinated or harmonised. Nonetheless, they blend and complement each other, creating a mix of the individual and the ensemble. Walking into The Score at the Ian Potter Museum of Art gave me a similar impression. Strains of melodies, sounds and various aural devices confront the visitor as soon as they enter, and while it’s immediately clear that these sonic strains emanate from distinct artworks and spaces, in their overlapping and entangling they create an impressive exhibition that is more than the sum of its parts.

Sriwhana Spong, The Fourth Notebook, 2015, HD video. Courtesy of the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland.

Stretching across all three levels of the Potter, The Score is an ambitious exhibition that encompasses much more than artists working with music or sound. Through the motif of the “score” it explores themes of translation, performance, visualisation and cross-pollination between art forms. As a university art museum, with access to academic and archival collections, as well as an established commitment to Australian contemporary art, the Potter is ideally placed to present an exhibition like The Score. Curator Jacqueline Doughty has thoughtfully made use of all these resources available. Inspired by a graphic notation score by composer Cornelius Cardew, the exhibition includes a number of archival documents and recordings by Cardew and other modernist composers (including Karlheinz Stockhausen, George Crumb and Lyell Cresswell, among others), drawing its materials from multiple collections, including the Grainger Museum and the Baillieu Library’s Rare Music Collection.

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