For the Nasher Museum’s current exhibition “The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl” artist Xaviera Simmons was commissioned to create a new work, entitled “Thundersnow Road,” based on her experiences in North Carolina. In creating this project Simmons took a 10-day trip across the state, from coast to mountains, where she took a series of photographs of the landscape she experiences. Some of the locations she photographed had historical significance, such as the birthplace of Thelonious Monk and Kitty Hawk, while others were more anonymous. What ties them all together was that something about that particular image spoke to Simmons and in many cases inspired the “character,” typically played by herself, which she inserted into the landscape. Once she had compiled these images, Simmons then gave two photographs each to a series of musicians that then interpreted the visual images into a song. The songs were eventually compiled into a vinyl record, whose cover displays the photographs, which inspired the music. In the installation for the exhibition, Simmons work is shown in a small room where several of her photographs are hung and the record is played on a loop so that visitors can emerge themselves in this pictorial and musical interpretation of the North Carolina landscape.
I was specifically drawn to this piece because, like Simmons, I too have experienced much of North Carolina as a visitor and outsider. While I may not have the same connection to the landscape as those that are native to the state have, there is a sort of universality to the images she presents, where we can find connections to our own experiences in the American landscape. For example, throughout the duration of my life I have always lived near sand dunes very similar in appearance to those in Simmons Kitty Hawk image. That personal experience immediately allows me a certain degree of personal relation to Simmons image and when I stand in front of it, it is almost as if I can hear the wind rustling through the reeds and the faint tune of the song which was created as a result of this image as the wind passes through the spirit-like character’s guitar strings.
Tags : Xaviera Simmons
Categories : Book of Notice