|VENUE:||ARCOOP Building Geneva, pre-recorded|
|RADIO STATION:||RTS Culture Espace2|
The Sheer Frost Orchestra, for 17 women playing electric guitars
The Sheer Frost Orchestra had its first iteration in 1993 when Marina Rosenfeld was a student at CalArts. It has received many performances since, including in New York, London, Innsbruck, Cleveland, and San Francisco, but was mainly active as a concept and composition during the ’90s. An event of indeterminate length but deploying a formalized set of other conditions—namely, 17 female performers, 17 electric guitars laid end-to-end on the floor, 17 individual amps forming a wall behind the performers, and a hundred or more nail polish bottles dividing audience from stage (enough for each performer to have access to a variety of textured and sized glass bottles for sound-production)—it foregrounds the intersection of performance, site specificity, improvised music, and feminist strategies of organization and sociality. Participants are required to learn a set of one-fisted gestures on the instrument and a scoring system organized in 30- or 60-second increments. At no time are the instruments lifted to the body or touched, except through the mediation of the glass bottoms of the many nail polish bottles at hand. Participants adopt and explore these techniques in rehearsals that are just as important as any subsequent performance. The work’s identity is distributed across numerous local, temporary ensembles; scores customized to local conditions; and recorded traces in the form of cassette recordings, CD releases, and personal memorabilia (including scores, programs and relationships formed in the course of participation).
Interpretation: Ensemble Contrechamps, Geneva
Marina Rosenfeld is a composer and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Her works explore acoustic architectures and experimental forms of participation and sociality in sound installation and performance.
In 1993 she mounted her first all-woman Sheer frost orchestra as a student at CalArts in Los Angeles. Subsequent works in the 90s and aughts explored the staging of sound in complex sites, with attention to perception and the (female) body. In the late nineties she also began to create dub plates, developing an improvisational practice as a turntablist with a distinctive palette of sounds drawn from her studio practice. From 2008, with Teenage Lontano, she turned her attention increasingly to the diffusion of the voice within complex systems, with works for choir and the notable collaboration P.A./HARD LOVE with Annette Henry, aka Warrior Queen. Her music has continued to experiment in the areas of performance and notation, staging and concept, and in recent works, image and object.
Rosenfeld has collaborated with a core group of artists and interpreters, especially Okkyung Lee, Marino Formenti, George Lewis, Christian Marclay, Greg Fox, Eli Kezler, and Ben Vida. Between 2004 and 2008, she performed frequently with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, and in recent years, created scores for choreographers Ralph Lemon (Scaffold Room, 2014-2015) and Maria Hassabi (PLASTIC, 2016, STAGED?, 2017, and STAGING, 2017-2018).
Rosenfeld’s work has been presented by the Park Avenue Armory, the Museum of Modern Art, the Kitchen, the Whitney and Guggenheim museums, the Fondacion Serralves, Western Australia’s Midlands Railway Workshops, and festivals and institutions throughout Europe, the US, Canada and Australia. She has mounted solo exhibitions in recent years at Portikus Frankfurt, the Artist’s Institute and, upcoming in 2021, at Kunsthaus Baselland in Basel, Switzerland. Her work has been included in two Whitney biennials, two PERFORMA biennials, the Montreal Biennial, Liverpool Biennial, and international surveys such “Every Time A Ear Di Soun” ( for Documenta14), and Tasmania’s “Dark Mofo” in 2019. In the contemporary music field, she has created works for the Holland, Borealis, Wien Modern, Time:Spans, Maerz Musik, Vancouver, Pro Musica Nova, Donaueschingen, Musica Strasbourg and Ultima festivals, among many others.
Rosenfeld has been the co-chair of the MFA in Music/Sound at Bard College since 2007, and has been a visiting professor in sound, sculpture and performance at Cooper Union, Harvard, Yale School of Art, and Brooklyn College. In 2019 she was Inga Otto Maren Fellow of the Watermill Foundation, and she is currently a research artist with Experiments in Art and Technology at Bell Labs Nokia. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.