Moniek with the Ocean Box
Mona Lisa Box (because its eyes follow you everywhere...)
"These alternative music boxes tell a poetic audio-visual story, with tiny sounds, subtle light reflections and a little liberating kitsch or humour as ingredients. Music boxes have fascinated me since childhood. Once I visited a small family museum at the back of the Beaubourg in Paris, to discover the most fabulous collection I've ever seen or heard. From that day on music making has become even more exciting: I visit flea markets, looking for the most appealing, still silent, box and listening to the sounds in my head. What kind of sound will I decide to let escape from what kind of box? Once a box has been chosen I start working on the visuals. Little by little my ears become pregnant with the most appropriate sounds. Soundscaping and building alternative music boxes are adventurous journeys into the audio-visual world. The vast universe of audio art is there to be explored."
Moniek Darge (Bruges, 1952) is active as a composer, violinist, performer and audio artist. She has built light and sound sculptures, installations and musical instruments. She has been performing around the world since 1970, first with the Logos Ensemble, then with Logos Duo, and more recently with the M&M robot ensemble and the Logos women. The latter are a small group founded by Moniek, who specialise in intermedia improvisations and perform their own compositions for various instruments, voices and music boxes.
In 1997 Moniek received the title of Cultural Ambassador of Flanders for the Logos Duo. Belgian radio has broadcast programs about her music experiences in Kenya, Rwanda, Japan, China, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand. She has also created her own radio programmes about women artists over the world.
She studied music theory and violin at the Music Conservatory of Bruges, painting at the Ghent Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and Art History, Philosophy and Anthropology at the University of Ghent. She is assistant professor at the University College Ghent, where she teaches 20th Century Art History and Non-Western Art Studies in the Fine Arts Department and an introductory course to Ethnomusicology in the Music Department.
One of the very first visitors to the exhibition asked where the language element of the music boxes was. Given Moniek's background, I had considered the boxes as combinations of music and visual art, and hadn't really thought about the language element of these particular boxes (although there are others with where language is a more obvious factor). The visitor's suggestion was that the feathers in the Mona Lisa box referred to writing. When I thought about it later - having listened to Moniek talking about the boxes with all sorts of people and giving half a dozen demonstrations, and then doing the same myself, it occurred to me that the boxes are visual works that incorporate oral language. The stories are part of the boxes.
It doesn't make sense to type out the stories here. Perhaps I'll get a film of Moniek demonstrating the boxes when the exhibition comes to Ghent.