Liverpool Biennial 2010: Nina Canell at Tate Liverpool

Art Currently a room at Tate Liverpool is dedicated to a group of installation pieces by Nina Canell inspired by the Neptune movement in Holst's The Planets or more specifically the spectacular and suitably otherworldly fade out at its conclusion. Listen:



The most suitable expression is On Thirst (Unequal Diameters) in which six many segmented glass tubes resembling a percussion instrument have been dangled from the ceiling containing samples of water from the River Mersey from various depths, from top to bottom.

There's sediment at the bottom of each of the segments which gives it a living quality and it's one of the rare occasions when a work at the Tate has reflected on its neighbouring expanse of water. Oh and of course there's the double meaning in relation to where the deity version of Neptune spends his hours.

Coincidentally, BBC Radio 4's Choice podcast this week also talks about the fade out, investigating its five hundred year history:
"How do you end a piece of music? For 500 years pieces always had a clear ending, often a climax with all the performers playing a rousing cadence which almost guaranteed applause. But in the 20th Century music often ended with a fade out instead. Holst's Planets Suite (written 1914 -16) ends with a chorus of women's voices sound fading into nothing - perhaps the first true example of a fade in music."
The score is on display in the gallery space and I urge you to stop and read the composer's direction on how to express the fade which reminds me of this quote from Alexander Graham Bell:
“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."
The BBC podcast should be available to download for the next seven days.

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