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First Person: Silence, The Menil Collection (Houston, TX USA)


Tino Sehgal’s “Instead of allowing something to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things” (image from Eyebeam website)

Silence is on view at the The Menil Collection from July 27 through October 21, 2012. The day after it opened, I visited the exhibition for what I hope to be the first of several visits.

This exhibition is packed with a range of fascinating works. A performance highlight is two versions of a video of John Cage’s 1952 composition 4’33”. For this piece, the musician sits at a piano without producing any sound with the instrument. The sounds taking place as the musician sits in the environment are the work.

Also on view is Tehching Hsieh’s One Year Performance (1978-1979). This includes documentation of the artist locking himself in a cage in a Manhattan loft for twelve months taking a vow of silence which included no conversing, no listening to the radio, no reading, and no watching television.

Another stand out performance work is Tino Sehgal’s Instead of allowing something to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things (2012) which has a live performer present throughout the exhibition. A room of the gallery is entered where off to one side the performer moves around in various positions while lying on the floor.

Silence, curated by Toby Kamps, at The Menil Collection is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 11am to 7pm, is located at 1533 Sul Ross Street, Houston, Texas 77006 and is always free. For more information, please visit:

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Internationally unknown artist and post-Campbellite Emily Sloan is the founding reverend of the controversial Southern Naptist Convention and chief caretaker and curator of The Kenmore exhibition object. Sloan is based out of Houston, Texas where her practice includes education, performance, public art projects and object making.

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