Joaquin Orellana: The Spine of Music

Installation of Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music at Americas Society. (Image: Alexander Perrelli)




Americas Society Presents Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music

The first U.S. show of the Guatemalan composer’s útiles sonoros (sound tools), which holds a virtual opening on January 19, was curated by Diana Flatto and Sebastián Zubieta.

On view from January 20 through April 24

Opening date pending safety.

Curated by Diana Flatto and Sebastián Zubieta

Press Preview: By appointment. 


New York, December 7, 2020—Americas Society presents Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music, the first exhibition of the Guatemalan composer's útiles sonoros (sound tools) in the United States alongside the work of contemporary artists. "Orellana is a key figure for both music and contemporary art in Central America, and his show expands our exhibition program's geographic and disciplinary boundaries," said Director and Chief Curator of Visual Arts at Americas Society Aimé Iglesias Lukin.

The exhibition connects the musician's avant-garde sensibility with that of artists including Carlos Amorales, María Adela Díaz, Akira Ikezoe, and Alberto Rodríguez Collía, each of whom has spent time with the composer and created work related to his practice. "Orellana's útiles are interdisciplinary by nature, existing as visual objects waiting to be activated as instruments by performers," said exhibition co-curator Diana Flatto.

Born in Guatemala City in 1930, Orellana studied violin and composition at the National Conservatory of Music in Guatemala and was a fellow at the preeminent Centro Latinoamericano de Estudios Musicales (CLAEM) at the Instituto Torcuato Di Tella in Buenos Aires. There, he became particularly interested in electronic music, and after returning to Guatemala in 1968 he decided to invent alternatives in order to recreate the sound-world he imagined after his experiences in Argentina. "These low-tech, handmade instruments face the past and future at the same time, but, above all, they are communal and profoundly 'humanophonic,'" said co-curator and Director of Music at Americas Society, Sebastián Zubieta. As a part of this project, Americas Society has commissioned a new score by Orellana—Efluvios y puntos—which will premiere at Americas Society.

This exhibition will be accompanied by the next publication in the gallery's pocket book series including texts by the co-curators and illustrations of the útiles sonoros, archival material and scores, as well as the works by the contemporary artists. Public online programs will be announced, including virtual concerts and panels.

Visit the exhibition page.

Book your visit here.

Register for the virtual opening on January 19.

The presentation of Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council. It is also made possible, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Additional support is provided by MetLife Foundation, Presenting Sponsor of the MetLife Foundation Music of the Americas Concert Series; the Smart Family Foundation of New York; Mex-Am Cultural Foundation; and the Japan Foundation, New York. In-kind support is provided by Kurimanzutto Gallery Mexico City and New York. The publication of the pocketbook is made possible, in part, by a grant from Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.

Americas Society acknowledges the generous support from the Arts of the Americas Circle members: Estrellita B. Brodsky; Virginia Cowles Schroth; Diana Fane; Galería Almeida e Dale; Isabella Hutchinson; Carolina Jannicelli; Vivian Pfeiffer and Jeanette van Campenhout, Phillips; Gabriela Pérez Rocchietti; Erica Roberts; Sharon Schultz; Diana López and Herman Sifontes; and Edward J. Sullivan.