“Play it by Ear presents the first solo exhibition of work from Richard Carr, one of Irelands leading young contemporary artists at Soma Contemporary Gallery, Waterford City, Ireland. Beginning in 2012 as a research trip to Pythagoras’ cave, Mt. Kerkis, Samos, Greece, Carr spent time participating and immersing himself in the sonic material, both from Pythagoras’ cave and surrounding environment to bring back home to Ireland to work with.
As the legend goes, Pythagoras fled to the caves in Mt. Kerkis c.400 B.C to escape the infamous tyrant Polykratis who was pursuing him. While in exile Pythagoras used these caves as a place of prayer, teaching and residence, developing many followers. Rooted in both mathematics and mysticism, his caves became a philosophical school, a religious brotherhood, and a political association. During this time it is widely believed that Pythagoras delivered his teachings from behind a curtain, in an attempt to activate a listening sensibility among his pupils. In doing so his pupils became known as akousmatikoi, with Pythagoras often being accredited as the first acousmatic practitioner.
Occupying the four gallery spaces at SCG, Play it by Ear showcases four exciting installations that further Carr’s ongoing enquiries into and around sound and listening within the histories of contemporary visual art practice. These works illuminate beautiful combinations of early interventions into acousmatics with contemporary concerns around notions of sound(in)art within a gallery context. Through these Play it by Ear brings a valuable contribution to many of the areas currently being developed by leading international artists, writers and theoreticians such as; Salomé Voegelin, David Toop, Gemma Fiumara, Brandon LaBelle, among others.
Working on this premise, the title of this exhibition aims to bring to the forefront a listening sensibility as a simultaneously intuitive and critical practice. Through the exhibition of the work, it also aims to examine the curatorial dimensions of working and exhibiting sound within a gallery context, as well as the resulting modes of encounter or invitation each work offers, as one moves and listens through the four gallery spaces of SCG. Finally I would like to thank a number of people who came together to bring this exhibition to fruition; Richard Carr, Salomé Voegelin, Sean Kissane, Declan Long, Waterford, South Dublin and Wexford County Councils, Gorey Cultural Centre as well as all the staff at SCG, without whom it would not have been possible.”
– jacqulyn johnson, director SCG
by richard carr
gallery discussion video-interview here