Call and Response
Christian Marclay, Steve Beresford
hardcover, 10 × 7.75 in.
48 pages, full color
published in 2022
Known for his ability to locate music and sound in the most unexpected contexts, artist Christian Marclay began photographing the emptied London streets when the world shut down in the spring of 2020. He found the quiet—the absence of all city sounds—both haunting and peaceful. On his daily walks, he began to imagine that there might be music in the landscape. He snapped a photo of an iron gate adorned with decorative white balls as it reminded him of a musical score, sent it to his friend, the composer Steve Beresford, and asked: “How would this sound on the piano?” Beresford responded with a recording. Over the course of that spring, they connected virtually across the locked-down city: Marclay took more photographs which inspired Beresford to write more music.
In his introduction, Marclay writes, “I realized that all my pictures were of enclosures: gates, fences, windows, closed stores. A view of the world behind barriers.” The music both embodies and serves as counterpoint to these images of confinement, expanding space and, in its notation, reconfiguring the visual correspondences between image and sound.
Collecting twenty of Marclay’s photographs with twenty of Beresford’s scores, Call and Response reproduces the pairs of images and scores chronologically in an elegant, pared-down, and tactile volume reminiscent of a music notation book. Particularly for those who cannot read music, they are magical pairings in which the imagination fills the quiet and the eye conducts the music. For those who can hear Beresford’s scores, they reveal the possibilities of the musical imagination translating the visual world into the aural. In both cases, Call and Response is one answer to the question of how to connect in a world of dislocation and isolation.
about the authors
Visual artist and composer CHRISTIAN MARCLAY (b. 1955) is renowned internationally for his playful, experimental fusion of sound, video, collage, performance, and sculpture. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011 for his 24-hour video The Clock, Marclay is a pioneering artist who locates sound, music, and sensory experience in environments and media that one might never consider auditory. His most recent solo exhibition was at the Museum of Contemporary Art Japan in 2021, and another opens at Centre Pompidou in fall 2022.
STEVE BERESFORD (b. 1950) is a British multi-instrumentalist (including the euphonium and various toy instruments) and composer with an extensive discography who has collaborated frequently with artist Christian Marclay, lectured on and performed works by John Cage, worked with pop artists like Ray Davis, The Slits, and The Flying Lizards, and was a member of the legendary Portsmouth Sinfonia. With Blanca Regina, he is part of Unpredictable Series, which produces events and sound and video recordings of experimental music and art.
Each of Marclay’s 20 numbered photos is diary entry-like: no titles, just the dates he took them. Here you have railings, grey abstract shapes on the windows of commercial buildings, neatly stacked boxes obscured behind glass, and a row of beverages on a shopfront … The only human presence, the only human eye, is the photographer’s barely visible reflection in a window … Marclay could be the ghost of a city worker, or a glitch in a set of CAPTCHA images. Marclay’s buildings come across like relics here, echoing a past London owned by city workers and tourists. As with Beresford’s solemn pauses, we are anticipating the return of the past … Lockdown restrictions gave boredom and the act of waiting a new moral significance. Call and Response is a testament to how these measures provided artists with a new set of creative conditions.
—Lottie Brazier in Elephant
October 29, 2022: Small Publishers Fair in London: Bookartbookshop hosts a celebration of Call and Response and Steve Beresford will be there to sign books.
October 24, 2022: At the Ikletik Art Lab in London: Steve Beresford and Xenia Pestova Bennett perform excerpts on two pianos, toy objects and electronics.
June 26, 2022: Book launch at the Vortex Jazz Club in London: A conversation with Christian Marclay and Steve Beresford, along with a performance of the scores by Pat Thomas.
“In my opinion, genre is a way of speaking about conventions of reading and looking, where you sit or stand and whether you’re allowed to talk to other people or move around while you’re communing with an object or text.” —Lucy Ives, from her interview with Karla Kelsey in Feminist Poetics of the Archive at Tupelo Quarterly[...]