The Gymnasium Gallery
The easiest way to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed from Newcastle is by train. Direct trains run frequently on the east coast mainline, for further information and timetables see: www.nationalrail.co.uk or www.eastcoast.co.uk
Sun 26 April 2015, drop in from 2–5pm
The Gymnasium Gallery
Susan Stenger returned to Berwick-upon-Tweed to discuss her work with gallery visitors at The Gymnasium Gallery. This was a unique opportunity to hear the artist describe her working process and to ask questions in the informal gallery setting.
Susan Stenger Biography
Susan Stenger was born in Buffalo, NY in 1955. After classical flute studies in Prague and New York, she joined Petr Kotik’s SEM Ensemble and specialised in performing the music of John Cage, Christian Wolff and Phill Niblock. She was a founder of acclaimed wall-of-guitar group Band of Susans and all-bass art band Big Bottom and has collaborated with an eclectic range of artists, including dancer and choreographer Michael Clark, writers Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore, and scrap-metal percussionist FM Einheit.
In 2006 she was commissioned by Mathieu Copeland, along with Forma Arts and Musée d’Art Contemporain Lyon, to make an exhibition-length sound installation. Her Soundtrack for an Exhibition, which ran for 96 days, explored archetypal song structures on multiple levels of time, genre and detail, re-ordering them into new musical narratives and textures.
Stenger also served as composer, music director and montage filmmaker for a series of collaborative multimedia events called English Journey: Re-Imagined, which embraced and reshuffled elements of local culture in various regions of England to create shape-shifting portraits of place. In 2011 Stenger composed sound for Pat Collins’ film Tim Robinson: Connemara. Her soundtrack was based on a study of Irish traditional unaccompanied singing, the Connemara landscape, and a close reading of writer and cartographer Robinson’s work.
Stenger’s second major sound installation was the cyclical drone work Full Circle, commissioned by AV Festival in 2012 to respond to the theme of duration. Full Circle was first presented as a month-long installation outside Newcastle’s Civic Centre and was subsequently featured in Toronto's Nuit Blanche Festival and Stockholm’s Music and Art Festival.
In 2014, Stenger contributed music for Mathieu Copeland’s The Exhibition of a Film, which premiered at Biennale de l’Image en Mouvement in Geneva and has since been presented in cinemas at Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern. In the resulting Three Disembodied Love Songs, Stenger interwove her own performances with elements recorded at her direction by Cosey Fanni Tutti, Laetitia Sadier, Samuel Gleaves, Alan Vega and Nick Cave. Stenger’s Deep Songs, commissioned by Oslo’s Only Connect Festival for performance in June 2015, combined the sounds of Icelandic volcano and glacier activity with the elemental timbral qualities and profound melancholy of the Hardanger fiddle.
Her most recent sound installation, Sound Strata of Coastal Northumberland, used an 1838 cross-section geological diagram as a graphic score, creating a sonic geology of layered instrumental sounds, melodic patterns and signature rhythms from Northumbrian folk music and dance. Commissioned by AV Festival and premiered in 2014 at the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle, Sound Strata toured the Northumberland coast throughout 2015 and resulted in a 96-page publication with CD.