Visual Silence at ALAC

Last year, when I was unemployed, I had a few moments where I really felt I would leave working in music again and completely immerse myself in contemporary art. But I’m 42. I’ve been working in music since I was 19. I’ve lived through all the formats: from the vinyl, 8 tracks and tapes of my youth, to cds of my teens to MP3s and more vinyl of my 20s to dematerialization and streaming. Sheet music is the only medium I haven’t entirely consumed partially because for someone devoted to music, I can barely read it. I can play a few songs on keys, but I am not a musician. But music informs all my creative work. I would not be a writer without my endless soundtrack and painting only has rhythm with sound playing nearby.

All of this only explains why I was so moved by the Brazilian artist Chiara Banfi’s work at ALAC Thursday night. The piece photographed above stopped us in our tracks. A black music stand with a painted over composition perched upon it. The only notes displayed on the page were the symbols of pauses, the notes for silence.

It’s in these moments that the worlds of music and contemporary art collide for me, where I realize it’s ok to live in both, because creative expression is deeply interconnected. 


For a while, I’ve been saying that art made outside of the US and Western Europe is most appealing to me, because it’s often charged with subtle political undertones. The artist making the work must be courageous to do so. That element of fear excites me. I always admired those Kundera characters that were doomed to fail for their ideas in an age of repression.

Maybe the only thing good about 2017 is that the music and art worlds will stop being obsessed with shiny, luxury objects and songs about fancy consumerism and really focus on creating art that has the power to move the masses to speak up for freedom of expression. I promise not to be silent when that occurs.

Chiara Banfi’s work is at the Galeria Vermelho (São Paulo )booth at ALAC in Los Angeles through January 29th. 

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