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An Archive of Desire

Bismuth Quartet

   with Matt Engle and Nick McNamara


November 18, 2021 


In the early1900's the Glen Foerd mansion underwent a massive renovation, doubling the size and installing a Haskell pipe organ at its core. What did it feel like to be in the house when the organ was being played?  Bismuth Quartet's Static/Flow was an opportunity for the musicians and guests to explore the architecture through an immersive sound and embodied  experience of Glen Foerd as a giant music box.

The Bismuth String Quartet, joined by bassist Matt Engle and saxophonist Nicholas McNamara produced a dynamic sound performance+installation at the Glen Foerd Mansion. The ensemble presented a self-composed electro-acoustic auditory experience drawing inspiration from  An Archive of Desire. Each musician was arranged in different spaces throughout the mansion, allowing the audience to freely move about and experience incidental harmony through a multitude of vantage points.

September 2021 - continuing

My heart beats faster as I climb the stairs from the creek to the house. Turning away from the river, I enter the house. It is all so dazzling and precious. Up I go towards the stained-glass skylight, pausing on the landings to catch my breath. Up I go to the top of the grand staircase and then on the ladder into a cramped octagonal attic space. A shorter ladder leads to a tiny door. Hunched over, my final steps take me out to the roof. I spin around to surveil the full extent of the estate. It fills me with joy and desire. I feel it with my entire body: my breath settles, my heartbeat slows, my eyes blink in the bright sunlight, my skin cools from the breeze, my erect body stretches out and up.


Four detailed ceramic installations in a pair of historic vitrines present “An Archive of Desire.” Composed of several scenes, the story of the house's history is told from various points of view.


Cupola recreates the roof and room which originally topped the mansion.


Tiny Movie Theater (in the cabinet below) offers a cluster of chairs to view a screening of the rooftop sunrise on loop.


Remnants presents five macquettes from the exhibition space:

Servant's Stair

Cupola Base with Ladder


Model of Fractured/Reflections

Pink Bathroom.


Night Garden (in the cabinet below) reimagines the river stairs and garden along the Poquessing Creek, illuminated by the moon and stars.


The four scenes are cyclical and related: dawn to dusk, top to bottom, riverbed to rooftop, childhood to old age, newly made to decay, hope to despair, simplicity to complexity.


The work is written in the language of clay: from cone 10 porcelain to a variety of mid-fire stone and earthenware clay bodies. There are thousands of pieces: river rocks, blades of grass, bathroom tiles, lighting sconces; finials, spires, balustrades, corbels; vines, flowers, trees, sprouts and clover, sticks, shrubs and mushrooms; lamp shades, fireflies, ladders and stairs, stonewalls and slate pieces; the thinnest plates for a movie screen, various moons and stars. Each piece is hand formed and fired, mortared together, wired up and programmed.


The installations propose different ways to understand history: an idealized recreation; a complex model including the real, imaginary, and stylized; a movie that replays a specific moment. The fourth space offers an alternative, looking at what's all around us and seeing how that's the product of history. Visitors are invited to see themselves as part of this history with the very space they occupy recreated and installed in the vitrine.

Fractured Reflections is an accompanying installation on the grand staircase landing. The bookshelf with ninety-six one-foot square mirrors, each at a slightly different angle, is a demonstration in the complexity of point-of-view. It offers a fifth, metaphorical approach to how history is constructed. Hidden, red flannel sandbag supports keep the mirrors in place.

Artist Talk

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