Dead Plants and Living Objects - A Collaborative Sound Performance by Rie Nakajima and Pierre Berthet


Tin cans, whistles, locomotive suspension springs, porcelain bowls,
compressor top bells, ping pong balls, agave dry leaves, sponges,
steel wires, branches, paper foils, plastic bags, silver papers, pink gloves,
piano, balloons, buckets, feathers, water, scraps, pebbles, flower pots,
guitars, metal tubes, paulownia tree seeds, pearls, bamboo sticks, logs,
bones, stones, filter queens...

At the beginning of November Rie Nakajima and Pierre Berthet visited The Sidney Nolan Trust for a short residency at part of our Arts Council funded Eternal Place- Creative Space programme.  What followed was a spellbinding public performance in which the two artists enabled every day found objects and materials to 'sing' and resonate around our gallery space, allowing "their acoustic shadows to dance ".
The Sidney Nolan Trust’s journey with Rie has been an exciting one, and is a wonderful example of the benefits of a long-term relationship that develops with artists who have been part of our residencies over several years. 
Rie first came to us as part of the Crossings residency programme in 2014.  Alongside land artists Richard Harris, sound artist Lee Patterson and modern composer Shiori Usui she had the opportunity to review her artistic practice.  As a result she created a series of installations and performances producing her own extraordinarily diverse sound landscape and using a combination of kinetic devices, audio materials and found objects. 
"Using sound, I look for a state where things start to react to each other, freed from their specific contexts" she stated at the time. 
Since being at the Trust Rie has gone on to exhibit and perform across the UK and internationally.  A long term collaboration with David Toop has resulted in a sound project entitled ‘Sculpture’ and, working with Keiko Yamamoto, a recent music project 'O YAMA O' explored the concept of music with no genre.   Exhibition partners have included the ICA, Ikon, White Cube and Serpentine Galleries.  A large scale collaboration with the Ikon gallery in Birmingham is planned for next year; the direct result of a relationship brokered by the Trust during her initial residency stay at The Rodd.  
It was therefore a real pleasure to be partnering with Rie and Pierre on DEAD PLANTS AND LIVING OBJECTS, and giving our audiences, who had first encountered her in 2010 the chance catch up and to understand and appreciate how her work and ideas had developed.
The combination of Rie and Pierre results in work that is subtle, sublime and unique.  At The Rodd they installed two pieces around the farm before carrying out the main performance in the gallery space


 This performance built on their experimentation with helium balloons during the preceding residency and evolved slowly from small delicate drips to the gentle clatter of water in tin foil cups strung below balloons which were floated aloft by convected warm air.  Soft sighs of wafted air from whipped twigs led on to a carefully orchestrated symphony of sound played around the gallery space both by the moving artists themselves and by intricate kinetic self-playing machines. 

It was a truly breath-taking and ground breaking experience.  Moving through and around us the artists gently took us on a journey of observation, noticing  the effect and impact each noise had on the other and on the gallery space itself.  As the last small rattle died away and the final balloon sunk to the ground there was a realisation from all in the room that they had witnessed something immensely creative and thought provoking.   Rie and Pierre are surely destined to become exceptional practitioners of this novel and exciting art from. 
A huge thank you to Rie and Pierre for their ability to challenge the senses, to the Arts Council England for funding our current residency programme, to AHRC for additional funding to support their visit and Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI) for funding Pierre’s travel.




Supported By

Arts Council England