Charlemagne Palestine

Born 1947 in Brooklyn, NY
Lives and Works in Brussels, Belgium

Charlemagne Palestine is a composer, musician, performer, and visual artist. Challenging expectations of what a contemporary, Western ear may consider beautiful, his sparse, repetitive, ritualistic music is rooted in his formal training as a cantor and early experiences with carillon bells and electronic tone generators while nodding toward a spectrum of religious ceremonial musical styles.

Palestine’s site-responsive work for the 2014 Biennial practically haunts the Museum building. This sound piece was recorded as the artist ascended and descended the stairs, chanting into the stairwell and using his voice, his footsteps, and the reverberation of sounds off the stone to create his music. Combining his musical performance with his sculptural practice, Palestine cloaked the speakers in fabric and stuffed animals, animating the stairwell visually as well as sonically. As he always does while performing, Palestine sang while drinking cognac, creating a ritual-like environment. The playback and speakers have been synchronized to this original moment so that Palestine’s disembodied voice follows viewers as they make their way through the stairwell, the speakers’ channels corresponding to how the artist moved through the space during the performance.

2014 Biennial: Charlemagne Palestine