PEM + Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain present The Great Animal Orchestra
Released August 12, 2021
The Great Animal Orchestra: Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists On view November 20, 2021–May 22, 2022
SALEM, MA – This fall, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain are proud to present the North American premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra, a collaborative work between pioneer soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists. Over the course of nearly 50 years, Bernie Krause collected more than 5,000 hours of recordings of natural environments, including at least 15,000 terrestrial and marine species from around the world. Now, museum visitors can step into an immersive audio-visual experience that celebrates our planet’s rich biodiversity and raises awareness of its alarming decline. Along with the opening, a new documentary about Bernie Krause, directed by the French filmmaker Vincent Tricon and produced by Fondation Cartier, will also be released and shown as part of PEM’s exhibition presentation.
The Great Animal Orchestra is on view at PEM from November 20, 2021 through May 22, 2022 and is Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain’s first exhibition partnership in the United States in more than 20 years. The exhibition furthers PEM’s long-running and ongoing commitment to presenting contemporary art that underscores a deep human connection with the natural world both in its Dotty Brown Art & Nature Center and across the Museum’s campus.
Bernie Krause’s research offers a wonderful immersion into the sound universe of animals, otherwise known as biophony. Before developing a passion for recording wild soundscapes, Krause worked as a musician and sound designer in the 1960s and 1970s, collaborating with artists like The Doors and Van Morrison. In 1963 he joined The Weavers, filling the slot established by Pete Seeger. In 1967, with his music partner Paul Beaver, Bernie introduced the Moog synthesizer to pop music and film. Beaver and Krause’s work can be heard on over 250 albums and 135 feature films released between 1967 and 2000, including Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now and Donald Cammell and Nicolas Roeg’s Performance.
Krause contemplates the natural world as a poet. He listens to animal vocalizations with a musician’s ear and studies his field recordings from the perspective of a scientist. He has become a master in the art of revealing the beauty, diversity and complexity of the languages of wild animals, increasingly silenced by the din and intrusion of human activity. In the 1970s, Krause recorded soundscapes across North America, Latin America, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, as well as a collage of soundscapes from the depths of the world’s oceans. In recent years, he has returned to these exact sites only to find that more than 50% of the recorded biodiversity has been lost. This unique installation thus makes a plea for preserving the wondrous diversity of the animal world. Krause implores us to listen to these voices from the living, non-human world before they are forever silenced.
To produce The Great Animal Orchestra, Krause collaborated with United Visual Artists (UVA), a London-based art practice led by Matt Clark, whose installations and collaborations integrate new technologies and traditional media. UVA developed computer software that creates extraordinarily detailed, immersive, animated spectrograms generated by Krause’s soundscapes to form a visual interpretation of the various global locations and times of day that Krause’s original recordings were made. In this environment, we are guided into the interrelationship of the many species performing in the world’s great animal orchestras.
Krause’s use of sound recordings as a tool to study natural habitats has led to an entirely new field known as soundscape ecology. “Bernie takes a multisensory approach to studying nature. His work reveals that we can more quickly understand the health of a given ecosystem by listening to it than by looking at it,” Trevor Smith, PEM’s Associate Director – Multisensory Experience and Curator of the Present Tense said. “The interrelationship of the sounds that the different species make as they inhabit a given site is a more profound marker of the health of an ecosystem than whether the location appears pristine to the naked eye.” Jane Winchell, PEM’s Director of the Art & Nature Center and Curator of Natural History, added, “The Great Animal Orchestra is a highly original and memorable encounter that stays with you long after you leave. I found myself listening more intently and with greater awareness of how animal sounds serve as messengers of an ecosystem’s vitality.”
Hervé Chandès, General Director of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and head exhibition curator, notes that the artwork reflects the Fondation’s commitment to showcasing exhibitions that make people think about art, culture and ecology in new ways. “Bernie Krause’s work teaches us that each animal species possesses its own acoustic animal signature that, like a musical instrument in an orchestra, positions itself with both precision and subtlety within the score of the soundscape of the ecosystem in which it lives. The polyphony of the great animal orchestra is rapidly being silenced and we must band together to protect our natural resources and environments.”
PRESENT TENSE INITIATIVE Under the guidance of curator Trevor Smith, PEM’s Present Tense Initiative celebrates the central role that creative expression plays in shaping the world around us. Through the Present Tense Initiative, PEM collaborates with artists and other creatives to produce innovative museum experiences that engage with the communities we serve.
PUBLICITY IMAGES High-resolution images and captions are available upon request.
SOCIAL MEDIA Share your impressions on social media using #TheGreatAnimalOrchestra and #PEMClimate
EXHIBITION CREDIT The Great Animal Orchestra, a collaboration between Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists, was commissioned in 2016 by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, and is now part of its permanent collection. The exhibition is organized by the Peabody Essex Museum and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.
The exhibition is presented as part of PEM’s Climate + Environment Initiative and is made possible by a generous gift from the Creighton family and the Albert M. Creighton III Fund for Art and Nature. Additional support was provided by Peter and Sandra Lawrence and individuals who support the Exhibition Incubation Fund: Jennifer and Andrew Borggaard, James B. and Mary Lou Hawkes, Kate and Ford O'Neil, and Henry and Callie Brauer. We also recognize the generosity of the East India Marine Associates of the Peabody Essex Museum.
PROGRAMS PEM is hosting an ongoing series of special exhibitions, installations, and programs about our changing relationship with the natural world that encourage reflection, inspire conversation, and spark action. Learn more at pem.org/climate-environment and #PEMClimate.
The following publications are available for purchase in the PEM Shop:
The Fondation Cartier’s The Great Animal Orchestra website was conceived in 2016 upon the exhibition’s debut and is dedicated to the work of Bernie Krause, allowing visitors to become their own conductor of nature’s vast musical ensemble.
The exhibition is accompanied by a book about UVA, Other Spaces, published by The Store X The Vinyl Factory in 2019, as well as a book about the collaboration behind The Great Animal Orchestra, with the contributions of Bernie Krause, Matthew Clark, Gilles Boeuf, Michel André and Hans Ulrich Obrist, published by the Fondation Cartier.
Released on vinyl for the first time by The Store X The Vinyl Factory and Fondation Cartier, Bernie Krause’s soundtrack has been pressed onto two 180-gram heavyweight records, housed in a bespoke gatefold sleeve featuring installation imagery and graphics with informational inner sleeves and inserts about the recordings and the environments in which they were captured.
Bernie Krause’s new book The Power of Tranquility in a Very Noisy World, scheduled for a Fall 2021 release, addresses the noise and chaos that compete for every moment of our attention. Just as some influencers inspire us to tidy up household clutter, The Power of Tranquility takes personal organization a step further – into the sonic realm. Krause shares tips to identify and reduce the damaging aural assaults that besiege us, the incoherent dissonance that impacts our health more than we may realize.
ABOUT FONDATION CARTIER POUR L’ART CONTEMPORAIN The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is a private cultural institution whose mission is to promote all fields of contemporary artistic creation to the international public through a program of temporary exhibitions, live performances and lectures. Created in 1984 by the Maison Cartier, the historic institution is located in Paris in a building designed by the architect Jean Nouvel. Fostering surprising and unexpected encounters between artists, scientists, philosophers, musicians and architects from around the world, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain has over the years developed a program of distinctive contemporary art exhibitions on subjects ranging from science to cinema, dance to design, and has built a unique collection that brings together more than 2,000 works by 500 artists of 50 different nationalities.
For more than two decades, the Fondation Cartier has engaged in projects that examine and address the most urgent issues facing the environment, animal life and indigenous peoples. Full exhibitions, individual works of art, publications, performances and public talks, have explored the devastating effect of human intervention, industrialization, and colonization on the natural world. Exhibitions such as Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest (2003), Native Land, Stop Eject (2008), Exit (2008-ongoing), The Great Animal Orchestra (2016) and Trees (2019) explore the Fondation’s commitment to contemporary ecological questions and the role of humans in the living world.
In recent years the Fondation has initiated partnerships with major international institutions, organizing exhibitions in Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Seoul, Milan and Shanghai. The presentation of The Great Animal Orchestra in partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, marks the museum’s first exhibition partnership in the United States in more than 20 years.
ABOUT BERNIE KRAUSE Since 1968, Bernie Krause has traveled the world recording and archiving the sounds of creatures and environments large and small. Working at the research sites of Jane Goodall (Gombe, Tanzania), Biruté Galdikas (Camp Leakey, Borneo), and Dian Fossey (Karisoke, Rwanda), he identified the concept of biophony based on the relationships of individual creatures to the total biological soundscape as each establishes frequency and/or temporal bandwidth within a given habitat. His contributions helped establish the foundation of a new bioacoustic discipline: soundscape ecology. Krause has produced over 50 natural soundscape albums in addition to the design of interactive, non-redundant environmental sound sculptures for museums and other public spaces throughout the world. His installations can be experienced at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC), the California Academy of Sciences (San Francisco), the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Chicago Science Museum, the American Museum of Natural History (New York City), five special commissions at the World Financial Center (New York City) and more than 30 other venues across North America and Europe.
ABOUT UNITED VISUAL ARTISTS
United Visual Artists (UVA) is a London-based collective founded in 2003 by British artist Matt Clark. Its diverse body of work integrates new technologies with traditional media such as sculpture, performance and site-specific installation. Drawing from sources ranging from ancient philosophy to theoretical science, the practice explores the cultural frameworks and natural phenomena that shape our cognition, creating instruments that manipulate our perception and expose the relativity of our experiences. Rather than material objects, UVA’s works are better understood as events in time in which the performance of light, sound and movement unfolds. UVA has been commissioned internationally by institutions including the Barbican Curve Gallery (London), Manchester International Festival (Manchester, England), Royal Academy of Arts (London); Serpentine Gallery (London); The Wellcome Trust (London), Towner Gallery (East Sussex, England), Victoria & Albert Museum (London), Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, (Paris), YCAM (Tokyo) and others. Previous group exhibitions include Blain|Southern (London), Riflemaker (London), Bryce Wolkowitz (New York) Seoul Museum of Art and Power Station of Art (Shanghai).
ABOUT THE PEABODY ESSEX MUSEUM Over the last 20 years, the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) has distinguished itself as one of the fastest-growing art museums in North America. Founded in 1799, it is also the country’s oldest continuously operating museum. At its heart is a mission to enrich and transform people's lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes, and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming, and community and virtual events that emphasize cross-cultural connections, integrate past and present, and underscore the vital importance of creative expression. The museum's collection is among the finest of its kind, with superlative works from around the globe and across time — including American art and architecture, fashion and design, photography, and African, Asian, contemporary, maritime, Native American, and Oceanic art, as well as one of the nation’s most important museum-based collections of rare books and manuscripts. PEM's campus offers a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities and performance spaces. Twenty-two noted historic structures grace PEM’s campus, including Yin Yu Tang, a 200-year-old Chinese house that is the only such example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States. HOURS: Open Thursdays-Sundays and holiday Mondays, 10 am-5 pm. Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. ADMISSION: Adults $20; seniors $18; students $12. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang: $6 (plus museum admission). Members, youth 16 and under, and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang. INFO: Call 866-745-1876 or visit pem.org.