Lee Ranaldo and Leah Singer: Sight Unseen

Lee Ranaldo and Leah Singer have worked together since 1991 with film and music in a live setting, performing work that explores how sound and image interact, with elements of chance embraced. Sounds and images are culled from the everyday, where the experiential nature of the work takes precedent over overt narrative. Attention is paid to things that often go unnoticed, to how close observation can reveal something new. ISSUE is pleased to present the duo performing Sight Unseen on June 30th, with open installation hours following July 1st and 2nd.

Sight Unseen is image and sound, the drone of a guitar string, the flash of a film frame. An electric guitar is suspended in the performance space, un-tethered from the amplifiers. Projection screens are site-specific, possibly layered one atop another. Suspended guitar and film frames interact, but any part of the room might be used as performance space, with little separation between audience and performer. The intention is to create a sound and light environment where the performers and the audience are engaged in an immersive experience, more circular than linear, allowing for personal interpretation and perhaps meditation rather than fixed exposition.

At ISSUE, the room will set up the room as an installation, with the audience invited to sit and absorb sound and image — an opportunity to get off the street and enter into an open sensory environment. In addition to the Thursday, June 30th performance, visitors are invited to stay for as long as they want during installation hours on July 1st and 2nd. The program is one hour and will loop. Intermittent live performances by Lee with the hanging guitar run throughout the installation hours.

Lee Ranaldo co-founded Sonic Youth in 1981, and has been active from New York for the past 35 years, recording, performing, collaborating with numerous others, producing discs, exhibiting visual art and publishing volumes of poetry and journals. He has performed with partner Leah Singer throughout the world. His recently completed new album, Electric Trim, is out for release. He is music producer for HBO’s VINYL series. His Hurricane Transcriptions (based on wind recordings made during Hurricane Sandy in NYC in 2012), originally written for Berlin’s Kaleidoscop String Ensemble, was recently reduced for performances with Brooklyn’s Dither Electric Guitar Quartet. Recent live performances with Singer, Contre Jour, have been large scale, multi projection sound+light events with suspended electric guitar phenomena that challenge the usual performer/audience relationship via in-the- round staging.

Leah Singer was born in Winnipeg, moving east to Toronto, Montreal and Tokyo before settling in New York City. She is a visual artist and a writer. Her artist publications are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The live manipulated film and video performances she started doing in the early 1990’s in collaboration with musicians, including husband Lee Ranaldo, have toured widely including to The Rotterdam International Film Festival, The Reykjavik Arts Festival, and the JUE music festival in Shanghai. She continues to develop site-specific video installations intended to exist both as static artworks and components to live music performances. She recently contributed video to the multi artist project, The Exhibition of a Film, curated by Mathieu Copeland with recent screenings at the Tate Museum and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

Program guest curator: Kathleen Forde

Kathleen Forde is a curator based in NYC and Istanbul. Forde is the Artistic Director at Large for Borusan Contemporary, a collection-based space for media arts exhibitions, commissions and public programming in Istanbul. Concurrently she is working as an independent curator with various institutions both nationally and abroad. From 2005 to 2012 Forde was the Curator of Time-Based Visual Arts at the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center (EMPAC) in Troy, NY. At EMPAC she commissioned and/or produced a broad range of new work by artists that included The Wooster Group, Laurie Anderson, Japanther, Jem Cohen and Ben Rubin, and curated exhibitions such as Dancing on the Ceiling: Art and Zero Gravity. Prior to EMPAC, Forde was the Curatorial Director for Live Arts and New Media at the Goethe Institut Internaciones in Berlin and Munich and Assistant Curator for Media Arts at SFMOMA. She has also written and/or curated on a freelance basis for various organizations that have included the Eyebeam Center for Art and Technology; The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA); Independent Curators International; The Transmediale Festival, Berlin; Kunstverein Dusseldorf and Cologne; VideoZone, Tel Aviv; the Rotterdam Film Festival; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.