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Balustrade: Endless Tapes

March 22 - May 12, 2019

Curated by Aldy Milliken


Through audio recordings of spoken texts, slide projections, films, and through live performance, Tris Vonna-Michell relays circuitous and multilayered narratives that combine personal anecdotes and historical research. Vonna-Michell’s narrative structures are characterized by repeated detours and streams of association. Dense conglomeration of photographic material, from film and slide projections to photographic prints and other ephemera form a “visual script” that is animated by the artist’s recitations. Integrating fiction and factual information, Vonna-Michell’s narratives address the nature of coincidence and contingency, often referencing his personal history and artistic production. His practice builds on a process that is both recursive and perspective with images drawn from his own archive, including those from previous works, continually reappearing in new configurations.

For this exhibition, the pieces revisit Vonna-Michell’s research on French concrete and sound poet Henri Chopin (1922–2008). Between the 1950s and 1970s, Chopin created a large body of pioneering recordings using early tape recorders, studio technologies and the sounds of the manipulated human voice. Chopin lived in Vonna-Michell’s hometown of Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, England between 1968 and 1986. Vonna-Michell’s interest in Chopin began after asking his father how he came to be born in Leigh-on-Sea.  His father suggested he find and ask Henri Chopin. “All you need to know is that he loves quail eggs, lives in Paris and is 82 years old,” Vonna-Michell’s father relayed. Vonna-Michell then set out to meet Chopin. His ongoing performances and installations titled, “Finding Chopin” have continued since 2005.


Tris Vonna-Michell lives and works in Stockholm. Vonna-Michell’s work has been included in exhibitions at the Tate Britain in London, Moderna Museet in Malmö, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Secession in Vienna, the Shanghai Biennial, and the Yokohama Triennial. Vonna-Michell was nominated for the 2014 Turner Prize, and was awarded the Baloise Art Prize and Ars Viva Prize for Fine Arts in 2008. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art, the Städelschule in Frankfurt, and Emily Carr University in Vancouver.

Balustrade: Endless Tapes

Mixed media installation,

slides and sound work, 2011

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