Score 88%Score 88%
By Sarah Downs
Reich Richter Pärt at the Shed in Hudson Yards is an immersive musical/art installation. The piece is performed in two parts: Reich Richter, by painter Gerhard Richter and composer Steve Reich, featuring Richter’s “Patterns” series of striped wallpapers and a film collaboration with Corinna Belz. Reich’s hypnotic music is performed brilliantly by the Ensemble Signal orchestra; and Richter Pärt, which features Richter’s tapestries and paintings with vocal music by composer Arvo Pärt, sung with haunting musicality by the Choir of Trinity Wall Street.
There’s an excitement to entering a space with only the barest idea of what form a performance will take, an excitement rewarded in this case by rich color and music. The first piece, Richter Pärt, takes place in a large gallery hung with a few of Richter’s richly colored tapestries and works on paper that extended floor to ceiling. As we roamed the gallery, a handful of singers, weaving among us, began to chant the mystical harmonies of Arvo Pärt’s “Drei Hirtenkinder aus Fatima,” a capella. The music ended as quietly as it had begun, and we were ushered into the neighboring gallery for the second piece, Reich Richter.
In this gallery, with an orchestra at one end of the room, and a blank wall on the other, we were treated to a visual feast. Perched on benches and stools or spread out on the floor, we were audience to an abstract film in which Richter and filmmaker Corinna Belz extended and transformed Richter’s striped wallpaper using Richter’s “patterns” process. As Ensemble Signal played Steve Reich’s incredibly difficult music, which defies both time signature and traditional melody, a stack of lines in myriad hues were projected onto the opposite wall. As the music swelled, the lines morphed into repeated patterns and increasingly detailed shapes – limitless fields of Art Nouveau flowers, a riot of Gothic arches, 1,000 Taj Mahals. It was mezmerizing.
This fascinating installation has been set up in New York’s brand spankin’ new hip spot – The Shed – at West 30th St. and the West Side Highway. A modern glass and concrete, multi-level structure, the Shed is a cavernous space of escalators and spare galleries, which is both imposing and, apparently, mobile (I’d love to see that!) The space hasn’t quite gotten its sea legs yet — some of the walls need that last lick of paint, escalators that final tweak, traffic more coherent management, and they have to figure out things like how to keep the restrooms stocked with necessities. Nevertheless, it is an exciting new venue that will no doubt only increase in popularity. Unfortunately, that also means that the massing hordes that have descended on that part of town are likely only to swell. The steady march of real estate development has given New Yorkers a whole new reason to throng.
Reich Richter Pärt: Reich Richter by composer Steve Reich and painter Gerhard Richter; film by Corinna Belz, edited by Rudi Heinen; music performed by Ensemble Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman. Richter Pärt, by Gerhard Richter and composer Arvo Pärt, from a concept originally developed by Artistic Director Alex Poots and Senior Program Advisor Hans Ulrich Obrist; featuring The Choir of Trinity Wall Street.
At the Shed (545 W. 30th St.), Level 2 Gallery. Exhibiting through June 2nd; Tuesday to Sunday; for performance times go to and tickets go to www.theshed.org or via phone at (646) 455-3494. Tickets start at $25, general admission. Run Time: 80 minutes, no intermission; audience will stand for Richter Pärt; limited seating for Reich Richter.