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Bill Fontana’s Silent Echoes: Notre-Dame at Arter

September 13–December 4, 2022

Bill Fontana’s 10-channel sound installation Silent Echoes: Notre-Dame, which was unveiled on June 7, 2022 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, makes a hidden acoustic scene audible by allowing the ten mighty bells of Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of Paris’ most famous landmarks, to ring once more following the fire that appeared to have condemned them to silence in 2019. Fontana installs accelerometers on each of the cathedral’s 10 bells with special permission from the French government in order to monitor their resonance while the edifice is still being restored until 2024. The work makes audible, in distinctive Fontana fashion, the slightest vibrations of the cathedral’s most ancient bell “Emmanuel”, along with its nine counterparts, as they respond to the ambient Parisian sounds, further conveying these mystical sounds from Paris to Istanbul through a live streaming infrastructure.

Silent Echoes: An Installation was shown in Istanbul following its debut at an inauguration using a speaker system set up on the terrace of the Centre Pompidou, one of Paris’ most recognizable architectural landmarks, practically directly facing the Notre-Dame Cathedral. John Cage’s dictum that “music is permanent; only listening is intermittent” resonates deeply with Notre-Dame, which also accords Arter the honor of becoming the first museum outside of Paris to host the project.

Through ten speakers installed on Arter’s -1 and -3 floors, visitors are given the amazing opportunity to hear Bill Fontana’s Silent Echoes: Notre-Dame and another piece by the artist, Resounding Io, both of which are on show in Arter’s performance venue Karbon. In Arter’s Sevgi Gönül Auditorium, an experimental movie by Fontana related to Silent Echoes: Notre-Dame will also be on view.

Commission: Ircam—Centre Pompidou
Production: Bill Fontana Studio, Stephanie Camu, Southern & Partners Artist Management
Co-production: Ircam, Centre Pompidou
In partnership with Établissement public chargé de la conservation et de la restauration de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
With the support of Hottinger Bruel & Kjaer, des Amis de Notre-Dame & Orange group
IRCAM computer music designer: Thomas Goepfer

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