PERF. N002/2020

Sound Performances for Clothes

PERF. No 002/2020

Graphic score / 1 - 12


PERF. No 002/2020 

Sound performances for clothes


2020, sound performances for performer with white shirt (size S, 100% cotton, Bangladesh), black socks (cotton, elastane), beige pants (85% polyester, 15% polyamide, Great Britain) and black/brown shoes (size 41, leather, Italy).

Performed by Ilmārs Šterns

Video documentation 2020, Bern, CH

Image credits: Zoë Gordon

Sound recording and video montage: Ilmārs Šterns

The author has created 12 sound performances that include elements of performance and sound art. The challenge is to tell a story without narration. Using clothes as instruments, Šterns discovers specific sounds and performance characteristics of textiles, imitating and camouflaging his voice and body. His work questions clothes consciousness. 

“Just as every musician is in some way related to his instrument, so am I. The body and the clothes are indeed in close communication, interacting and reacting to each other’s sounds and movements, as sound cannot exist without movement. Therefore, listening is an important aspect of this process. I have to pay attention to the quality of sounds produced by the textiles in order to immediately react with the appropriate answer. For example, cotton textiles have a more ruff sound than silk that has a higher frequency, which can affect my reaction”.

Swiss composer Noel Schmidlin (*1992) commented in the spring of 2020:

“Through the simultaneity of the sound created by the movement of textiles and the voice, which not only imitates it but also comments on it, underscores or covers it up, we perceive a fusion as well as a contradiction. This changing perception reflects in a beautiful artistic way our complex and controversial relationship to materials that accompanies us through our lives”.

PERF. No 002/2020 

Graphic score / 1 - 12

2020, pigmented ink (Germany) on 300g/m2 handmade paper 

(100% cotton, Italy), 30 x 21 cm each

Using graphic scores allows the author to document his performances, it enables the shaping of the composition and gives the opportunity to repeat it. These scores are presented in a way that is open to interpretation and reflects the content of the composition. Even if the graphic scores consist mostly of shapes and forms, in places you may come across elements of traditional musical structures, such as articulation or dynamic signs etc. To write the parts for the voice, the author used “onomatopoeia” (the phenomenon of creating a word that imitates non-verbal sounds by the human voice) developing specific textiles language.

PERF. No 000/0000

Title system

The author developed an indexation system that describes everything that he creates in one standardized model: the title is the address for his work and identifies each single version of the item that is created. It required the gathering of exact information to come up with a system that creates a convenient structural overview. The title is not directly related to the content unless the composition has a subtitle. Under the impression of a title, the recipient of the content is free to interpret the work at the moment the recipient meets the beginning - first line or phrase of the work. Part of the title indicates a specific instrument or sound object - in this case, "clothes" used by the performer during the performance, so that it can communicate with the viewer.

“In the score, I like to leave parts open to interpretation, to allow the performer to establish a closer connection with the surrounding environment.”



June, 2020

Bern, Switzerland