Ida Gianelli


When considering a sound, Max Neuhaus thinks of it as space, a volume or an environment, a totality of phenomena that are realized through an act of perception which is not only hearing but also seeing, that makes it appear and brings it to the surface. He does not consider sound research to be the sole auditory truth, but rather a surprising structural system within which it is possible to introduce architecture and the city, with their visual and volumetric linguistic systems. He wants it to interweave it with the world, to bring it back into conditions of hearing that cannot be closed off in a single form of representation. The issue he wants to raise is one of an open experience, so that sound is presented as an aural investigation of a context, reflecting its substance and forms, arrangement and identity. Sound grasps and shapes space, defines itself, becomes the matter of everything, visible and invisible, accessible and inaccessible.

The result is unexpected, a surprising event based on the interweaving between artistic vision and aural activity: sound art and sound installation. In generating sound for specific urban regions, from Times Square in New York to the Paris Metro, or as unexpected architectural containers for an aural intervention, from a New York swimming pool to a stairwell in Kassel, Max Neuhaus brings sound to a global affirmation, typical of artistic creation. He transcends the boundaries of music and has music converge with the territory of other arts, as well as with quotidian life and its indeterminate totality of facts, things, and occurrences.

With an unpredictable interval, tied to a need to upset the conventional process of sounds, he captures their reciprocal strength, arriving at a point where he constructs a true poetic, theatrical, visual, musical and architectural setting. Rejecting limited genres and affirming an original auditory language, the source of which is profoundly anchored in the poetry of the space, Neuhaus succeeds in bringing out the sound, granting it a pure state of becoming, which, as the ambient setting’s double and essence, represents that context.

With this total identification, he bears witness to the increasingly apparent nonexistence of diverse destinies for the arts. Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art has built its identity on the archipelago of languages, including in its programs the immensity and density of all possible creations. The work of Max Neuhaus, in its movement between sound and sign, installation and design, celebrates this infinite plurality. His work condenses images and spaces, auditory elements and colors, in order to multiply the enigma of art.


Translated by Gaia Casagrande

First published as "Visioni di Suono" Max Neuhaus: Evocare l'udibile [Italian, French] (Milan: Charta, 1995)