On Titanic Anniversary, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster to Sink the ‘Unsinkable’ Guggenheim

If, for some reason, you’ve ever wanted to see the Guggenheim sink into the ocean, this week you’ll finally get that opportunity. On Thursday the 14th, the artist Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster will stage two performances of T.1912, a piece that will convert the museum’s rotunda into “a site-specific staged audience experience” recreating the sinking of the Titanic. The performance marks the 99th anniversary of the ship’s tragic end and Gonzalez-Foerster, who has a history of making interesting and sometimes unsettling large-scale performance pieces, will try and recreate the event using a mix of installed pieces, lighting, audience participation and a performance of composer Gavin Bryars‘ 1969 piece, The Sinking of the Titanic. Here’s a bit of the description of the plans for the evening from the NY Observer‘s great piece about the project:

Throughout the 45-minute Titanic piece, ushers will circulate the audience in different directions — moving higher or lower once the “iceberg” tears into the hull, albeit musically. About halfway through, “there will be a movement where the audience is ushered further onto a different ramp and …there’s a big move,” Mr. Fabius said. The artist was secretive about how she will portray drowning, revealing only that “it’s the field where music plays the strongest role.”

The music will also resuscitate the most visceral survivor memories, such as when one man said the sound of the ship hitting the iceberg was like someone tearing a long strip of cotton. To simulate this, a guitarist attaches a piece of masking tape to the fingerboard, turns up the amplifier and then slowly peels it back. Another passenger remembered that the cries of people drowning sounded like 100,000 football players in an English stadium — a roar Mr. Bryars recorded for the piece.