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The Sense of Things

William Forsythe
1949, New York, NY (US) – Frankfurt am Main (DE)

Church bells, triangels, belfries, subwoofer

Dramaturge: Emma McCormick-Goodhart
Producer: Julian Gabriel Richter
Programming: Sven Thöne

In cooperation with Kunsthaus Zurich

From April 23 to May 24, 2021, the Kunsthaus Zurich invites to a preview of its new extension with a work by choreographer William Forsythe (*1949).
‘The Sense of Things’, conceived specially for this preview, can be experienced exclusively for four weeks in the museum’s new building by architect David Chipperfield. It is the first artistic intervention in the new space.

Curated by Mirjam Varadinis, ‘The Sense of Things’ encourages the visitor to build a direct relationship with the architecture that will house some of Kunsthaus Zürich’s most vibrant and significant collections.

In Forsythe’s acoustic intervention, deconsecrated church bells of different sizes, pitches, and timbres will be activated in a contrapuntal composition that is widely distributed across the spaces of the new extension. In considering Chipperfield’s building as an immense
sounding-body, Forsythe proposes that visitors individually tune the composition via their perambulations through the new museum, thereby embodying his choreographic proposition.

Forsythe’s examination of visitor experience vis-à-vis the new architecture posits acoustics as an ever-present, but invisible facet of museum design that has significant effects upon those experiences. ‘The Sense of Things’ emphasizes the visitor’s curiosity as key to apprehending the composition’s ‘Klangfarben’, nuances which are shaped by each visitor’s unfolding, investigative relationship to the building’s natural acoustics.

With their new cooperation, Kunsthaus Zurich and Forsythe wish to offer the broadest possible public a place where, after tremendous social disruption, community can once again be recreated. Gathering to experience the inherent sound of a building is certainly an atypical activity but also an unexpectedly gentle way to introduce the museum as a site that will be performing a significant civic role in the near future.