Divine Ricochet at the Guggenheim

Divine Ricochet is a three-part music series made to accompany John Chamberlain: Choices, on view through May 13 at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The series takes its name from Chamberlain’s 1991 work, a large and colorful, mangled assortment of painted and chromium-plated steel.

The series kicks off on Friday, April 13, with performances by Grouper (Liz Harris) and Julianna Barwick. Two weeks later, on Friday, April 27, Cold Cave is scheduled to perform. The series concludes on Thursday, May 10, with what is sure to be a stirring performance by Zola Jesus, accompanied by JG Thirlwell and the Mivos Quartet.

A lover of music, Chamberlain pushed boundaries as he explored abstraction, rhythm, harmony, and dissonance, providing a vibrant context for contemporary musical experiments in the museum’s rotunda. Like Chamberlain’s work, the music of Grouper, Julianna Barwick, Cold Cave, and Zola Jesus exemplify the intense push and pull between power and delicacy, structure and abstraction.

Interestingly, while the musicians selected to participate in Divine Ricochet are all personal favorites, I’ve never been a fan of Chamberlain’s work. I see only heaps of garbage, enormous crinkled balls of steel. The violence and chaos disturb me. Still, I can understand why Grouper, Julianna Barwick, Cold Cave, and Zola Jesus would be chosen to perform alongside such work: Their music is similarly colorful and can be similarly challenging, made from elements that at first seem contradictory or disparate, but nevertheless cohere.

Doors open at 8:30pm for an intimate viewing of John Chamberlain: Choices. Performances begin at 10pm. Tickets cost $22 for members; $27 for non-members. For more info, visit the Divine Ricochet web page.