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Mira Calix opens Moving Museum 35 in Nanjing

Sound art exhibition by Mira Calix opens on bus route 35 in Nanjing, China

Mira Calix has opened a sound art installation on a bus in China. Created in collaboration with the School of Media Art and Communication at the Nanjing University of the Arts, the Moving Museum 35 exhibition takes place on the public bus route 35. “I read somewhere that they opened at least one museum in China every day of 2014,” says Calix, “but having spoken to many artists and curators I was aware that visitor numbers are low, for a variety of complex historical and cultural reasons. I wanted to bring the museum directly to people, rather than people travelling to the museum. I thought it would be interesting to swap that destination and transportation dynamic to experience art.”

The bus is host to a selection of 21 musical responses to a series of artworks curated by the artist. The individual compositions were then mixed in quadrophonic sound, creating a one hour sound piece running on a continuous loop. “I’ve set a level that allows people to stand close to the speakers (peak travel times) without suffering.” Calix explains. “It was one of the most demanding environments I’ve done a soundcheck/level tests in. I specifically chose an electric bus as they are quieter, but as it travels, the sound level of the bus fluctuates as well as the exterior ambient sound. I set about what works well most of the time as it would be impossible to cater for all those fluctuations, including where in the bus you’re physically sitting or standing”.

Reactions documented so far in the visitor's book are varied, with responses ranging from “It feels like a kindergarten, I’m happy here” and “I’ve taken bus 35 for two years. It’s a witness of my dreams and love” to “The music is too loud. It’s better to be quiet on bus”.

“The premise of sound art is a new concept for a large majority of our visitors. Of course some people don’t like it, or just find it too loud or intrusive. But considering how many thousands of people are getting on the bus weekly – it's a surprisingly tiny percentage. I never expected everyone to love it, but I did want to bring the conversation about arts value and meaning in our daily lives to the table. In this I think so far it’s been a tremendous success. We’ve also had other cities in China asking if they too can have the Museum bus, which is a great marker in just how open people are to the new.”

Moving Museum 35 is running daily until 7 April in Nanjing, China. More information can be found at Mira Calix's website.