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SIGHT_SOUND #2: Martha Clippinger x tUnE-yArDs

By Ben French, Curatorial Assistant

SIGHT_SOUND is a new series that connects visual art and music. In each installation, curatorial assistant Ben French pairs one piece of art from the Columbus Museum’s permanent collection with a piece of music to explore the similarities and differences between the two art forms. Follow along on the blog, check out our YouTube playlist, and use #TCMsightsound to experience the museum in a new way.

Martha Clippinger
Vortex, 2013
Acrylic on foamcore in peach basket
with mirror
20 x 20 x 12 3/8 in.
Gift of Rhonda Pritchett Clippinger in memory of Philip Pritchett Clippinger

Both Martha Clippinger and Merrill Garbus of the band tUnE-yArDs couple a sense of playfulness with careful attention to rhythm, movement, and space to create dynamic, colorful work. Clippinger recognizes the common practices of modernist abstraction and repurposes them in herwhimsical play with everyday materials. Her work—composed of sculptures, tapestries, and tapetes—is displayed in lively ways in exhibition to engage the entire space, hanging at eye level, lying on floors in corners, and high on walls. Her work, then, is not only about the creation of the object, but also about organizing space.

LISTEN tUnE-yArDs: “Bizness” (2011)

Clippinger accomplishes this in a similar way to how Garbus organizes the sonic space of her songs. Garbus often hard-pans stereo sound between the ears, splicing bits of a single musical phrase or riff and engineering them such that one fragment plays in the left ear or the right ear in isolation. This panning joined with layered vocals and instruments aid in the creation of a spiraling effect that connects to the title of Clippinger’s work and reflects its multi-pieced construction. Overall, by organizing elements in space, Clippinger and Garbus are able to maximize the liveliness of their work and lead audiences into immersive experiences. 

Check out SIGHT_SOUND playlist here