Reference Gallery

Open Tunings

ShowingOctober 10, 2014 - January 4, 2015

Reference Gallery

Although sound art’s pedigree goes back to the pre-war avant-garde experiments of Futurism and Dada, it has until very recently received sporadic attention in museum and gallery exhibitions. Inherently about time and change, invisible and uncontainable, sound is in fact in some ways antithetical to conventional forms of display. Sound is also interdisciplinary: It overlaps with both the performing arts, including experimental music, and the visual arts, where sound art emerged more fully in the 1960s alongside a range of other process-based forms including body and land art, video and film.

Open Tunings
seeks to provide an experimental platform to explore the various ways in which the ephemeral forms of sound and performance can inhabit the exhibition space. Borrowing its title from a guitar technique by which the instrument is tuned to be strummed with “open,” that is unfretted, strings, this exhibition will present three consecutive, changing installations in sound and brings together David Grubbs & Eli Keszler, Brendan Fowler, and Hannah Weinberger.  Each project was conceived for the exhibition and takes its point of departure from a performance in the List’s Reference Gallery, followed by the presentation of audio or video recordings or objects used during the event. In both live and ongoing formats, the works variously examine the relationships between architectural space and spatial sound, presence and absence, liveness and recording, improvisation and script.

About the Artists

David Grubbs (born in 1967 in Louisville, KY) is a musician, composer, and writer who lives and works in New York City. He has released twelve solo albums and is known for his collaborations with writers such as Susan Howe and Rick Moody, and with visual artists such as Anthony McCall, Angela Bulloch, and Stephen Prina. Grubbs was a member of the groups Gastr del Sol, Bastro, and Squirrel Bait, and has performed with the Red Krayola, Will Oldham, Royal Trux, Tony Conrad, Pauline Oliveros, and Mats Gustafsson, among many others.

Eli Keszler
(born in 1983 in Boston, MA) is an artist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist who lives and works in New York City. His work has been shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; South London Gallery, London; Centraal Museum, Utrecht, the Netherlands; and Barbican Centre at LSO St. Luke’s, London. Keszler has collaborated with artists such as Christian Wolff, Phill Niblock, Tony Conrad, Oren Ambarchi, Joe McPhee, Jandek, Roscoe Mitchell, T Model Ford, Ran Blake, and Ilan Volkov with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra.

Brendan Fowler (born in 1978 in Berkeley, CA) a multi-disciplinary artist who works in photography, sculpture, and performance who lives and works in Los Angeles. He is the founder of the label VR/DM8H493. His artworks have been exhibited at Rivington Arms, New York; Half Gallery, New York; LAXART, Los Angeles; Hezi Cohen Gallery, Tel Aviv; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; A Palazzo Gallery, Brescia, Italy; UNTITLED, New York; Gemeente Museum, The Hague, the Netherlands; Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago. 

Hannah Weinberger (born in 1988 in Filderstadt, Germany) is an artist who lives and works in Basel, Switzerland. She recently completed her master’s degree in fine arts at Zurich University of the Arts. Recent solo exhibitions include Fri Art – Centre d’art de Fribourg/ Kunsthalle Freiburg, Fribourg, Switzerland; Swiss Institute, New York; Istituto Svizzero, Milan; Kunsthalle Basel. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including at the 2013 Lyon Biennale; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; Kunsthal Charlottenberg, Copenhagen.

Open Tunings is curated by List Curator Henriette Huldisch.

Support for this exhibition has been generously provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT, the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee, and the Friends of the List.


  • Hannah Weinberger, Not Without You (2014)
    Installation view

  • Brendan Fowler, Brendan Fowler at MIT List Visual Arts Center, November 6, 2014, 6PM (2014) – a live performance with voice and Roland SP-404 sampler

  • David Grubbs and Eli Keszler: One and One Less (2014)
    Live performance with voice, percussion, and sound installation