Interview with Pedro Lasch on Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction

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Performance of Pedro Lasch’s Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction: Anthems for Four Voices

“In a way the utopian or ideal audience for this work in terms of having no noise and really perceiving everything at its full capacity, is the polyglot of the absurd extreme, or the multinational being… Politics itself has abstraction at its core. Like the idea of the Four Powers, the idea of representation, all of these things are abstractions. For me at least I hope the project will bring that to the fore, and make it unavoidable. The ceremonial aspect of national ritual.” —Pedro Lasch

Pedro Lasch seeks to create work that exist both within and outside of the traditional museum structure. His recent performance/recital Abstract Nationalism / National Abstraction: Anthems for Four Voices was presented at The Phillips Collection as part of the International Forum on October 27, 2014.

Gallery goers were surprised by a spontaneous opera, and then lead into the Music Room for a full recital. The compositions heard were national anthems all sung in the language of the country that falls directly after theirs in the alphabet. Lasch also created new flags combining the elements of multiple flags which were marched throughout the museum.

Below in conversation with Phillips Media Presentation Specialist Katie Micak, Lasch discusses the impetus of the project, its relationship to nationalism, noise, clarity, and the conventions of the museum.

Director’s Desk: Dispatch From Seoul

Olafur Eliasson Seoul

Olafur Eliasson installation at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul. Magnificent transformation of a staircase with the magic of light and mirrors causing poetic and mind bending reflections. Meanwhile, across town, our brilliant Phillips Collection exhibition Ingres to Kandinsky at the Seoul Arts Center.

Director’s Desk: Dispatch From Shanghai

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

A little over a month ago I attended a U.S.–China Museum Leaders Forum in Shanghai sponsored by Asia Society and The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries. Alongside the conference we were able to visit the gigantic studio of the artist Zhang Huan near Shanghai. Some of these photos reveal the range of his work including monumental sculptures of unusual materials. The large scale painting based on a historical event is executed with the ash from incense and produced an overpowering aromatic presence. This brings to mind Zhang Huan’s ash covered sculpture head currently on view here at the Phillips. You can find it on the second floor in the installation A Tribute to Anita Reiner. The artist appropriates a material that resonates with meaning from Buddhist temple tradition.

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski

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Photo: Dorothy Kosinski