Allora & Calzadilla

Llyn Foulke

dOCUMENTA (13), 2012

06.09.2012 – 09.16.2012

Questions of personal and collective emancipation through art emerge in the process of making dOCUMENTA (13) by thinking through a number of composite ontologies that generate paradoxical conditions of contemporary life and artistic production.

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54th Venice Biennale 2011: ILLUMInazioni

Officical Website:

The title of the 54th Exhibition, ILLUMInations literally draws attention to the importance of such developments in a globalised world. I am particularly interested in the eagerness of many contemporary artists to establish an intense dialogue with the viewer, and to challenge the conventions through which contemporary art is viewed.

The term ‘nations’ in ILLUMInations applies metaphorically to recent developments in the arts all over the world, where overlapping groups form collectives of people representing a wide variety of smaller, more local activities and mentalities.

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Allora & Calzadilla 2011 Venice Biennale

Official Website:
4th June – 27th November 2011

The Puerto Rico–based multimedia duo Allora & Calzadilla has been announced as the United States’ representatives to the 2011 Venice Biennale, marking the first time that an artist pair or collective has been picked by the nation to fill the prestigious role. The selection was made by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, which the U.S. State Department has entrusted to organize next year’s pavilion; Lisa Freiman, the chair of the museum’s contemporary art department, has been tapped as the commissioner of the pavilion.

For the 54th Venice Biennale, Ms. Allora and Mr. Calzadilla will create works that combine performance, sculpture, video and sound. In “Striving for Glory”, Allora & Calzadilla have adopted the Olympic Games — the festival of athleticism originated in the 8th century B.C. as a tribute to Zeus and then later turned into a political staging ground for all manner of nationalistic display — as a focus of their installation. And not just in the abstract either: be prepared to encounter former Olympian champs Dan O’Brien, David Durante, and Chellsie Memmel in the paviion.

All together the artists are creating six works for the pavilion. “Body in Flight (Delta)” and “Body in Flight (American)” revolve around wooden reproductions of the latest designs for airlines’ business-class seats. The seats themselves will stand in for the balance beam and pommel horse, becoming apparatuses for gymnastic and dance performances. For “Track and Field” a treadmill will be attached to an overturned military tank, and runners will run on it at regularly scheduled intervals.

The exhibition, Ms. Freiman said, questions the interplay among the body and art, militarism, commerce, sport and national identity. And the artists have chosen to call it “Gloria,” a title that “works across all the different metaphors: religious, military, Olympic and aesthetic,” she said.

The title Gloria translates from Italian and Spanish to Glory. Gloria references military, religious, spiritual, Olympic, economic, and cultural grandeur, and points to the pomp and splendor of the national pavilions. The title also references the numerous pop songs that the female name has inspired.

Algorithm (2011)

Allora Y Calzadilla

Algorithm combines a custom-made pipe organ with an automatic teller machine (ATM). Visitors enter the gallery space and see the organ from behind. In the towering, nearly 20-foot-tall interactive sculpture, a Diebold ATM sits inside the pipe organ, replacing the typical organ keyboard, pedals, keys, buttons, and knobs with various ATM parts including a card reader, keypad, speaker, display screen, receipt printer, and cash dispenser. Each financial transaction that visitors conduct generates a unique musical score that produces randomized notes and chords at varying degrees of volume by driving pressurized air through pipes selected via the ATM keyboard. The artists collaborated with composer Jonathan Bailey to create a composition of sounds that range from atonal material to more classically structured melodies, harmonies, and phrases.

Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed (2011)

Allora Y Calzadilla

Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed is an altered bronze replica of the Statue of Freedom, also known as Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace (and sometimes referred to as Armed Freedom), which has crowned the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building since 1863. Armed Freedom Lying on a Sunbed features a scaled down, 7 ½-foot replica of the original bronze sculpture, lying horizontally inside a Solaris 442 sun bed. The work is housed within the Pavilion’s rotunda, which echoes the architectural form of the U.S. Capitol dome and rotunda.

Body in Flight (American) (2011)

Allora Y Calzadilla
n Body in Flight (Delta) and Body in Flight (American), Allora & Calzadilla appropriated the forms of state-of-the art elite business class seats and reproduced full-scale wooden replicas stained like polychromatic religious icons. In Body in Flight (Delta) the artists substitute the airline seat replica for a balance beam to be used by a female gymnast from USA Gymnastics—the national governing body for gymnastics in the U.S.—who will perform a routine that emphasizes flexibility and fluidity. Body in Flight (American) loosely approximates a pommel horse and will be used by male gymnasts who perform routines that feature quick movements and sheer gymnastic power. Each work appears in a separate gallery that isolates and contrasts the gendered performances. Working with gymnast David Durante and modern dance choreographer Rebecca Davis, Allora & Calzadilla developed routines to create a new vocabulary of movement that is an unexpected hybrid of gymnastics and modern dance.

Half Mast\Full Mast (2010)

Half Mast\Full Mast (21 minutes) is the third in a series of short films Allora & Calzadilla have made about the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, which was controlled primarily by the U.S. Navy until 2003, when military exercises ceased and environmental remediation began. Filmed on the island, the two-channel video consists of two projected videos, one on top of the other. Each depicts a different landscape, but both share a common cinematic framing of a flagpole in the center of the image. The result of the two images together creates the appearance of one single flagpole connected between the two screens, despite the image’s otherwise obvious disjunctive backgrounds. One gymnast at a time enters one of the two screens and takes the position of a human flag. Depending on which screen the gymnasts appear, top or bottom, the flag seems to be flying at full mast or half mast, in sites that symbolically mark places of victory or setback in the island’s 60 year struggle for peace, decontamination, ecological justice, and sustainable development.

Track and Field (2011)

Allora Y Calzadilla

Installed in front of the U.S. Pavilion, Track and Field features a massive 60-ton overturned military tank that has been repurposed by superimposing a functioning treadmill above its right track. An athlete affiliated with USA Track & Field—the national governing body for track & field, long-distance running, and race walking—runs on the treadmill at regularly scheduled intervals throughout the exhibition

Performance 9: Allora & Calzadilla at MOMA

Official Website:
December 8, 2010–January 10, 2011
Performances take place hourly starting at 11:30 a.m. every day the Museum is open.

For the ninth installment of the Performance Exhibition Series, the artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla present Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano (2008).

For this piece, the artists carved a hole in the center of a grand piano, through which a pianist plays the famous Fourth Movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, usually referred to as “Ode to Joy.” The performer leans over the keyboard and plays upside down and backwards, while moving with the piano across the vast atrium.

Performance 9

The result is a structurally incomplete version of the ode—the hole in the piano renders two octaves inoperative—that fundamentally transforms both the player/instrument dynamic and the signature melody, underlining the contradictions and ambiguities of a song that has long been invoked as a symbol of humanist values and national pride.

29th São Paulo Biennial 2010

São Paulo, Brazil : 25 September – 12 December 2010
Official Website:
Title: Há sempre um copo de mar para um homem navegar (There is always a cup of sea to sail in)

The title “There is always a cup of sea to sail in” was inspired by a line by the poet Jorge de Lima (1895 – 1953) in his work Invenção de Orfeu (1952). The concept of this year’s São Paulo Biennial is based on the notion that it is impossible to separate art from politics. Art, through ways of its own, is “capable of blocking the sensorial coordinates through which we understand and inhabit the world by bringing into it themes and attitudes that did not previously fit in, thus making it different and wider.”

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Allora and Calzadilla at the Lisson Gallery

Lisson Gallery
October 13, 2010 – November 13, 2010
52-54 Bell Street
London, NW1 5DA

Jennifer Allora (American) and Guillermo Calzadilla (Cuban) have been collaborating since 1995. On October 13th they will debut new large-scale works incorporating performance at the Lisson Gallery in London.

“Hope Hippo”
2005. Mud, whistle, daily newspaper, and live person.
nstallation view: 51st Venice Biennale.

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