Manon de Boer

Between Perception and Sensation

For her first major exhibition in the United States, the acclaimed Dutch, Brussels-based artist Manon de Boer asks us to listen as we look in uniquely crafted films that are defined by sound.

For over a decade, she has made a series of cinematic portraits, depicting friends, writers, dancers, composers, and musicians to explore questions of time and memory. Meanwhile, she examines how musical structures can transform what we experience. With a focus on performance—and the ways that sound can give a film its form—CAM spotlights De Boer’s expansive and grounding experimentations with sound, image, and the fundamental experiences of film. For Presto, Perfect Sound (2006), De Boer shot six takes of a violin performance, out of which she cut and then reconstructed the optimal sound composites to produce a “perfect performance,” despite the visual glitches we see before us. In Two Times 4’33” (2008), her camera fixes on the feeling of silence on film and in the body as it reverberates through the audience and extends to us off screen. A third film, Dissonant (2010), reveals the rupture between what we see and hear, and as the screen goes black, the viewer trades vision for the pure aural experience of a dancer’s moving feet.

In an ambitious installation conceived especially for CAM’s galleries, De Boer presents four key works that address her attention to the structures of music, orchestrating her films so that each portrait amplifies the connection between image and sound, performer and audience—asking us to revisit the process of looking and listening through the artist’s singular interrogation of cinema.

Manon de Boer: Between Perception and Sensation is organized for the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis by Laura Fried, Associate Curator with João Ribas, Curator at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge.

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