Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere at the ICA
Enjoy this soundbite from Peter Crimmins of WHYY, featuring artists Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere discussing the cover song and how it opens music to appropriation and political interpretation. -- Artblog editor

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Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio
Dance, dance, dance, dance, dance, to the radio

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere speaking with ICA Curator, Kate Kraczon, at the opening
Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere speaking with ICA Curator, Kate Kraczon, at the opening

The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania has given over its second-floor galleries to the New York art team Valerie Tevere and Angel Nevarez. One of the galleries is simply a radio on a table. It plays an original radio play the duo wrote: a science fiction story about voice recognition technology.

Radio nerds will notice that the radio has no wires, neither a power cable nor an auxiliary sound wire. The old technology stands independent, unassisted: the play is actually broadcast from a micro-transmitter discreetly placed behind a corner on the opposite side of the room, to a battery-operated radio.

Tevere and Nevarez are fascinated by the cover song. The adjacent gallery has four large screens playing back videos of music ensembles performing cover songs you might have heard on the radio in the 1980s, including “War Song” by Culture Club (here played by the Norwegian Radio Orchestra), “Into the Light” by Siouxie and the Banshees (here played by Amanda Dora and Sokia), and Joy Division’s “Transmission” as played by Mariachi Ciudad de Guadalajara.

Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, radio on a table transmitting radio play written by the two artists and transmitted via radio signal in the gallery
Angel Nevarez and Valerie Tevere, radio on a table transmitting radio play written by the two artists and transmitted via radio signal in the gallery.

Teasing out political messages

The mariachi band in full costume was shot playing (lip-syncing, actually) the proto-goth punk anthem during a protest staged at the Plaza de la Liberación in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. In 2008, the group Coordinadora Estatal del Movimiento Popular demonstrated against the inefficient use of public funds.

The artists intentionally mashed up the mariachi band, Joy Division, and a public protest to tease out cross-cultural codes and political messaging where they could not exist in any one entity. Like lyrics to a pop song, the video’s messaging is clearly intentional, but vague enough to be open to interpretation. They call the video “Touching from a Distance”:

We would go on as though nothing was wrong
Hide from these days, we remained all alone
Staying in the same place, just staying out the time
Touching from a distance, further all the time

You can hear the artists talk about the art of the cover song. You can also click to watch their videos, including “Touching From a Distance”.

Tags

Angel Nevarez, institute of contemporary art, philadelphia, radio, Valerie Tevere

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