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Terry Fox


Berlin Wall Scored for Sound

Graphite and ink on paper with piano wire and vinyl record
2.25 x 372 in. (5.715 x 944.88 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

Terry Fox, a native of Seattle, lived in San Francisco from 1968 to 1978, a crucial period not only for the development of his own work but for the influence it had on fellow artists, most of whom, like Fox, were associated with Tom Marioni’s Museum of Conceptual Art. In San Francisco, Fox enacted ritualistic, body-related performances, mounted installations, and also explored the element of sound in a series of performances based on the vibrations of strung piano wire, which had a strong, visceral effect. In 1980, after a brief stint in New York, he moved permanently to Europe, residing in numerous cities including Berlin, Naples, Florence, Liège, and Cologne.

In Berlin he lived alongside the Berlin Wall. “From the chimney top of that building,” he recounted, “I could look down into the Wall and follow its course for a long way in both directions. I could see how it bisected streets, squares, and even houses.” Inspired by the eccentricities of the wall, Fox created Berlin Wall Scored for Sound through a complicated series of measurements and transpositions resulting in an “aural geography,” as he described it. The work consists of drawings and a recording of the sound of bowing and beating piano wires, along with the whir of a British military helicopter that passed over the wall almost daily. For Fox, sound was a universal language.

Constance Lewallen

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