Kenneth King: The Sound of the Second Music

June 9, 1972 112 Greene Street/Workshop

Participating Artists

Kenneth King (Dance)
Susan Kleckner (Film)
Elaine Luthy (Dance)
Pierre Ruiz (Music)
Bill Stewart (Painting)

Exhibition Description

Tom Johnson’s review, “Sights of the Second Music” contains an extensive description of this collaborative performance. It reads: “A large altarpiece, with many flowers and a few pictures, was placed in front of a white backdrop some distance from the audience. Mournful music drifted through the loudspeakers in a minor mode, sounding a little like a collage of Russian Orthodox melodies, but with a constant heavy vibrato. Shortly, Elaine Luthy entered and seated herself in front of the altarpiece. Kenneth King came in briefly, making a few obeisant gestures, while the solemn music droned on. Both dancers were blindfolded and dressed in black.

“Then the sound faded away and Ruiz entered, dressed in white and playing a violin. He walked around the space very slowly, playing a perpetual line of 16th notes.

“After a short interlude of relatively sprightly electronic music, the violinist returned and placed a little wind-up toy in a light near the audience. He took his place at a music stand and began reading a Rameau minuet, playing very softly with the most wispy violin tone I have ever heard. I suppose the strings were muffled in some way. While he played, the dancers did a slow motion minuet, which ended as they attached their foreheads and bodies to each other with white strands about two feet long, then they walked away.

“The next interlude sounded like lovely little electronic bells, ringing pure tones and rich harmonies. This shifted abruptly to the music of the final section, a pitchless whooshing, a little like jets flying by in the distance.

Against this background, Ruiz again wandered around the area, playing perpetual motion violin music. This time the textures reminded me more of Bach’s music for solo strings, except that they never changed key. Against this is a silent 16mm film which depicts Ruiz playing his instrument on a beach, constantly turning around.”

Excerpted from Brentano, R., & Savitt, M. (1981). 112 Workshop, 112 Greene Street: History, artists & artworks. New York: New York University Press.