Artissima Live – Interview with Yann Chateigné Tytelman

Following the experience at #ArtissimaLive, Droste Effect is publishing the interviews collected during Artissima 2018 in Turin; find all articles at #ArtissimaLive.

Third conversation: curator Yann Chateigné Tytelman

Yann Chateigné Tytelman is a Berlin-based curator, writer and Associate Professor at Geneva School of Art and Design (HEAD). For Artissima, Chateigné Tytelman co-curated, together with Nicola Ricciardi, the Sound section. This new section of Artissima was dedicated to monographic sound projects in the contemporary art scenario, partly presented by galleries participating in the 2018 edition of the fair, partly by galleries who applied specifically to Sound, and selected by an international team of curators. Sound took place in a separate venue, the OGR – Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Torino.

On November 2nd we met Yann Chateigné Tytelman during #Artissimalive and this is our conversation.


Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Artissima, Artissima 2018, Artissima Live, ArtissimaLive

Yann Chateigné Tytelman in the ArtissimaLive booth
Ph Matilde Soligno


VINCENZO ESTREMO – This year the first installment of Sound takes place at Artissima. Can you tell us what is lying behind this new section?

YANN CHATEIGNÉ TYTELMAN – Something like a year ago, Ilaria Bonacossa, Nicola Ricciardi and I realized that, surprisingly, no other art fair seemed to have dedicated a section to “sound” practices. The analysis that we made relied on two ideas: first, if sound art, performance, and music were present in art fairs, it was, most of the time, hosted in the framework of public programs such as live events, or in parties, where music plays a more “functional” role. Secondly, we stated the evident importance, from a historical point of view, of sound in artistic practices, and from a contemporary point of view, we had the feeling that, in recent years, several artists, among the most interesting of our time, were experimenting with sound, and that it would be interesting, if not necessary, to group these works that seemed major to us. And then, we thought that dedicating a whole section to sound in the context of Artissima would be, again, a double challenge: a commercial one, showing that sound works are not only immaterial or purely made of time, of invisible elements – but that they have a physicality, a force, a presence that can, of course, be collected, and a curatorial one, as sound is a matter that allows experience in display, in ways of specifically configuring time and space in an exhibition. Our idea was simple, perhaps candid, at least direct: taking sound seriously.


Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Ilaria Bonacossa, Nicola Ricciardi. Photo by Perottino – Piva – Bottallo / Artissima 2018.

Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Ilaria Bonacossa, Nicola Ricciardi
Ph Perottino – Piva – Bottallo / Artissima 2018.


VE – In terms of what is possible to collect, don’t you think that sound pieces are following the line drawn by video some years ago? I mean, at the very beginning of the 1970s, when video appeared on the art scene, no one knew how to collect video art. Now, there are important art collections made out of video works. What is your personal idea about the relationship between collection and materiality?

YANN CHATEIGNÉ TYTELMAN – This a very interesting subject. Before video, I think that a similar “problem” had been posed by artists who use photography. As a young assistant, I heard so many stories told by curators who were active then, recalling how in the 1980s one could supposedly find photographic gems, even from the 19th Century, for a few euros, sometimes at flea markets. I have always been interested in this process of re-evaluation. I have practiced it myself a lot, as a curator, organizing shows, at times, with materials I collected in “non-standard” places… But this is another story. The role of the artists is major, at this specific place of the gaze’s “revolution”, of the writing of art history, and the building of collections – and so, logically, of the changes of the market. If artists had not used photography, of course, or looked at the possibilities of video, or highlighted “artists’ artists” as one says, museums might still collect the same artists, and perhaps galleries would still sell the same artists… But sound, in my opinion, has a complex history. The idea that, after photography, after video – and perhaps performance, dance and theater (see MoMA’s current retrospective of the Judson Dance Theater) – it would be the “turn” for sound to be collected, and historicized, might be too simple. Because sound is not only a medium that has its history within the arts, a history that has been written many times by its experts, but it is also – more interestingly to me – a matter: it’s like a pigment to a painter, or light to a photographer or a filmmaker. Sound lies in between things, and this is why it might always pose problems, interesting problems, as it resists classifications.


Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Susan Philipsz, War Damaged Musical Instruments, 2015. Installation view Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2016 Courtesy the artist and Ellen de Bruijne Projects Gallery and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin Photo: Jan Windszus.

Susan Philipsz, War Damaged Musical Instruments, 2015. Installation view Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2016 Courtesy the artist and Ellen de Bruijne Projects Gallery and Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin
Photo: Jan Windszus.


VE – Can you tell us your idea about the difference between sound and music?

YANN CHATEIGNÉ TYTELMAN – As I said earlier, sound for me is a medium in the strong sense of the term. It is something that exists between other things. It is ambiguous. We experience this very complex ontology in a very simple way, on a daily basis: sound is invisible, but at the same time omnipresent. There have been many beautiful essays written on this subtle presence of sound – from David Toop’s metaphor of the Ocean of Sound to Chris Kraus’ evocation of a Dark Sea. Musicians and artists have of course explored this unnoticeability of sound in compositions and artworks. But sound also lies in tensions, in oppositions – in between its function as a medium, that has to do with communication, with the creation of commonality. At the same time, sound has to do with control, as Steve Goodman has brilliantly pointed out ten years ago in his major essay Sonic Warfare. Sound can be deployed to create discomfort, control public spaces, or even as a weapon. Lots of works have been using this political, active dimension of sound, or the one of the “unsound”. Because sound has a lot to do with feelings, affect, emotions. There is a beautiful text by Diedrich Diederichsen on repetition, entitled Listening, listening again, quoting. Sound allows you to navigate through time and space, through memory, history, and your own body. It is like a tool that circulates in between people, in between everyone’s loneliness, and in between people and things, in between things themselves, and the world, the universe even. Sound has to do with this “vibrant matter” that is analyzed by theorist Jane Bennett. There is a sort of dream or poetic idea by Guglielmo Marconi, quoted by VOID – an artist collective that is part of the Sound section – that said that “sound never dies”, and stays in the atmosphere forever, and acts on things in the world, slowly, at a time scale that humans can’t comprehend.  Sound cannot be controlled, and if used in a good way, can have to do with freedom.


Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Ugo La Pietra, Audio Casco (1967), metal structure,methacrylate helmet, a sliding rail and a loudspeaker that transmits a soundtrack using a tape recorder, Courtesy of Studio Dabbeni, Lugano Gallery Studio Dabbeni.

Ugo La Pietra, Audio Casco (1967), metal structure, methacrylate helmet, a sliding rail and a loudspeaker that transmits a soundtrack using a tape recorder.
Courtesy of Studio Dabbeni, Lugano Gallery Studio Dabbeni

Yann Chateigné Tytelman, Franz Erhard Walther, Zick-zack-Stück (Flechtung) Zigzag Piece (Plaiting) Schreitbahn No 12, 1972 Dyed cotton fabric 1,350 x 310 cm Courtesy the artist and Jocelyn Wolff Gallery

Franz Erhard Walther, Zick-zack-Stück (Flechtung) Zigzag Piece (Plaiting) Schreitbahn No 12, 1972
Dyed cotton fabric 1,350 x 310 cm Courtesy the artist and Jocelyn Wolff Gallery


VE – And what about the works presented in Artissima Sound? I know you cannot choose only one, but I am sure you can say something more about a few of them.

YANN CHATEIGNÉ TYTELMAN – In this section, that we co-curate along with Nicola Ricciardi, the Director of OGR, we wanted to use space, and play with the fantastic plasticity of sound as a medium that travels, that contaminates and transforms the exhibition space, almost like color or light, but invisible. When you enter OGR’s Duomo, the first of the two large halls that we have at our disposal for the show, you can immediately hear, from very far away, Crumb Mahogany, a recent work by James Richards dated 2016. This sound piece, that has to be played at very high volume, is the first by the artist that functions as a film without pictures. The sounds that compose the work are aggregated together in relation with the effects and affects they procure. They all have to do with obsession, desire, and technology. The visitor is placed in the middle of a circle of speakers that are usually used in churches, and one can live something like a cosmic experience through the synthetic fireworks of musical fragments. It is something very physical. A few meters from there, one can see a series of drawings by Charlemagne Palestine from the mid-1970s. In these works, that are, on the contrary, totally silent, one can hear sound internally, as in one’s mind. It is another kind of physiological experience. These works, that are in fact scores for sound performances, the same idea of vibrations, of waves, of noise, chaos and sound spiraling in space, are present but apparently still, quiet. Then, at the very end of the show, we placed Coasts, an iconic work by Daniel Gustav Cramer, an artist who usually works with text, photography, and film. In the case of this specific work that we wanted to re-enact, he created a piece only made of sound, accompanied by two modest frames. A series of four speakers play recordings from Earth’s four oceans. When in the center of the space, the audience can immerse in the sounds of waves, merging in their ears, in their bodies vibrating, in their minds – understanding, suddenly, that even if they all sound different, they are part of the same element. An element that connects the Earth at an immense scale, and has for a very long time. It is almost metaphysical, deeply conceptual, and at the same time it allows this very intense feeling of “connection”. The very minimal text only indicates the names, the geographical coordinates and the time when the oceans where recorded. This section evolved around the idea of sound as a non-specific, non-exclusive medium, as a lot of works are produced by artists, such as Lili Reynaud Dewar, or Franz-Erhard Walther who mainly work with other mediums.


Yann Chateigné Tytelman, VOID, Bruit Blanc, 2015 Resid discs, wood, PVC cones, DC motors Ambient dimensions Courtesy the artist and Massimodeluca Gallery, Mestre-Venezia Photo: Murat Germen

VOID, Bruit Blanc, 2015 Resid discs, wood, PVC cones, DC motors Ambient dimensions Courtesy the artist and Massimodeluca Gallery, Mestre-Venezia
Ph Murat Germen


VE – Let me ask you one last thing. I am sure you have seen the exhibition The City of Broken Windows by Hito Steyerl at Museo Castello di Rivoli, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev and Marianna Vecellio. In that case, we have a very interesting combination of a sound piece and a moving-image installation. What do you think of this kind of work?

YANN CHATEIGNÉ TYTELMAN – Perhaps, on the contrary of the many other visitors at the opening, I really enjoyed waiting for my turn before entering the exhibition space. From outside, one could only hear the noise of windows breaking, part of the first video by Hito Steyerl located on the left side of the space, right behind the entrance door. I really wondered what was going on: the sound was so present, so spectacularly dense, that I can’t imagine the artist did not think about the two-folded experience offered to the spectator: one that was blinded by the entrance door and one that placed you in this gigantic white space, totally open, fully illuminated. Before entering the show, I thought there was perhaps a performance of someone breaking glasses, or that the show relied on a sound work. Then, when I entered the Manica Lunga, I saw these two video-works that structured the exhibition, and the text placed on the walls. The relation among images, text, sound and space was suddenly so strong because it created a very ambiguous void. A void that was full of information, and in the middle, a huge space left for the spectator to experience it, and do whatever s/he wants with it. The media merged into each other, and in the meantime, you understand that this reconfiguration was made out of a radical deconstruction of the components of an exhibition. I felt like it was a rare example of mastery in building space, creating time through sound. It felt like experiencing another dimension of cinema. Something that expands, extends the image. I saw the show twice and enjoyed it, even more, the second time. Because I also felt the emotion, the intimacy that lies behind, and that is the subtlety transmitted, in time, beyond the apparent dryness and the spectacular scale of the whole installation.

Droste Effect would like to thank the following galleries: Vera Cortês, Lisbon; Mazzoli, Berlin, Modena; Studio Dabbeni, Lugano; Levy.Delval, Brussels; Ellen De Bruijne, Amsterdam; Emanuel Layr, Vienna, Rome; Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Alfonso Artiaco, Naples; Pinksummer, Genoa; Alberta Pane, Paris, Venice; Unique Multiples, Toronto; Massimodeluca, Mestre-Venice; Francisco Fino, Lisbon; Jocelyn Wolff, Paris; Raffaella De Chirico, Turin.


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by Vincenzo Estremo
in Focus on Europe

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