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Naama Tsabar: Perimeters performance at The Bass, Miami Beach, FL (2021)

Perimeters performance at The Bass, Miami Beach, FL (2021).
Composed and performed by Ale Campos (@acidburnale), Fielded (@_fielded_), Gabriela Burdsall (@gabriela_burdsall), Gabrielle Sheerer (@Watubout), Lee Muze (@lee_muze), Naama Tsabar (@naamatsabar), Robbi Robsta (@robbirobsta), and Sarah Strauss (@xs_architect).

Working at the intersection of architecture and music, artist Naama Tsabar shows viewers how sound moves both through and beyond walls and buildings. For Perimeters, on view at The Bass through May 29, 2022, Tsabar fuses elements from sculpture, music, performance and architecture, transforming the museum itself into a playable instrument.

Citing iconic moments in rock performance history, as well as Auto-Destructive art, Tsabar’s Melody of Certain Damage works are made by smashing guitars in her studio, documenting where the pieces fall and meticulously creating new string configurations for the fragmented instruments. Transforming the destroyed object into a newly playable instrument, Tsabar co-opts an action that embodies the male-dominated legacy of rock and roll: the breaking of a guitar first popularized by The Who’s lead guitarist Pete Townshend. However, by dislocating the violence of the destructive act and only showing viewers the scattered fragments, Tsabar presents the remains in a reimagined form that emphasizes reconstruction and repair after trauma.

Tsabar’s Inversions series uses the intermediate spaces within and between walls and architecture to reference sound holes and the craftsmanship of instrument building. Acoustic studies have proven that the sonic power of an instrument resonates strongest at the perimeters of its opening, known as a sound hole. This sonic phenomenon led to the design evolution of musical instruments, like the violin and guitar, while also leading to the exhibition’s title and Tsabar’s continued experimentation with sound-making structures.

Depending on the work, activation comes through strumming hidden string elements, singing or the penetration and movement behind the walls to produce a sonic outcome. The sonic vocabulary emanating from these structures are derived from female vocalists, asserting the power and beauty of the female voice within the exhibition space.

The exhibition uses the pervasiveness of sound and the acoustic effect of perimeters to suggest strength at the periphery rather than at the center, a politically-charged and timely concept. Perimeters encompasses works that embody polarities: destruction/creation; absence/void, presence/occupation and singularity/collectivity. Tsabar’s sensuous works require a certain intimacy, where visitors and performers must reach into the wall or crouch on the floor to interact with the sculptural and sonic forms, at once creating a personal experience, while also becoming part of a collective and symphonic experience as additional viewers activate the other works in the installation.

Tsabar’s works probe the power structures inherent to museums, symbolically breaking through institutional barriers for participation by both artists and visitors by inviting women and gender non-conforming performers and visitors to permeate and penetrate the museum’s architectural structures. Together, these gestures subvert and breakdown historical efforts to control behaviors and prioritize certain populations while excluding others, all of which have been tenets of museums since their inception.

Learn more about Naama Tsabar: Perimeters athebeass.org/art.

Filmed by Jorge Graupera Films