Shifting Focal Points”: Sergei Tcherepnin on Sonic Attention

The intermedial aspects of my work are always changing. And the focal points. Even within one installation, I'm really interested in shifting perspectives, or focal points, and making installations where the sound seems very present and in the forefront, but then suddenly [you] turn a corner and you're confronted by this glowing photograph that's pulsing, and suddenly that seems like the most important....[and] there's a kind of dance between perspectives.” 

In this episode

Caitlin Woolsey speaks with Sergei Tcherepnin, an artist who works at the intersections of sound, music, sculpture, theater, and photography. We discuss how his work is made to be interacted with and creates new intimacies in listening. Sergei’s work invites listening by hearing, but also listening by way of touching, by walking, by pressing, and by feeling. He describes how he seeks to create multiple focal points within each work, activating a kind of queer sound or queer listening.

In this episode, you’ll hear several excerpts from sound installations by Sergei Tcherepnin. The first is from Giving Rein, originally presented as a 38-channel performance at Murray Guy Gallery in New York in 2011; the second and third interludes are excerpts from Aviary Clones, an installation at Len Lye Foundation in New Zealand in 2018.


Sergei Tcherepnin orchestrates complex multi-channel compositions in which objects are transformed into speakers. Often invoking queer, hybridized characters, these scenarios cultivate play between things and bodies. His performances and installations have been presented at the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg; Overduin & Co., Los Angeles; Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Roulette, New York; MoMA, New York; Pavilion of Georgia at the 55th Venice Biennale; Murray Guy, New York; the Kitchen, New York; Yvon Lambert, Paris; Karma International, Zurich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; and the 30th São Paulo Biennial, among other venues. He was a Villa Romana Fellow in 2014. A recurring visiting faculty member at Bennington College between 2016 and 2022, Sergei continues tteach at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Austria. He holds a BFA and MFA from Bard, and lives and works in New York City.

This conversation was recorded on January 18, 2023.

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