After pandemic disruption “Kite Symphony” takes flight in Marfa

Kite Symphony, an art exhibition two years in the making, is now open in Far West Texas. The multimedia project is part outdoor installation, part video documentary and musical work from artists Roberto Carlos Lange, who performs music as Helado Negro, and visual artist Kristi Sword. 

(Photo courtesy of Ballroom Marfa)

By Carlos Morales

Kite Symphony, the multidisciplinary art exhibit from artists Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword highlights the sounds and fleeting moments the artists experienced in Far West Texas. The project is currently on display at Ballroom Marfa and can be viewed by making a reservation here.

Lange and Ballroom Marfa’s Sarah Melendez joined us to talk more about the project.


Interview Highlights

How the idea for Kite Symphony grew during the pandemic

What started as a three-week research stint grew into a months-long stay for Lange and Kristi Sword when shutdowns across the country went into effect.

“I think our initial visit out here we had this idea; and like with any idea you have no idea what you’re gonna do,” Lange said. “It’s kind of like you’re either open to things evolving, or you’re stubborn, and you make it work and you suffer through it.”

Lange said he and Sword were “open to whatever was happening at that moment.” And in their extended stay had the opportunity “to really experience Marfa as Marfans do.”

What visitors can expect to experience

Kite Symphony’s final form is a multidisciplinary exhibition, including an outdoor installation, a series of drawings, sculptures, animation and a film that “showcases the experiences that Roberta and Kristi explored throughout their time in Marfa,” according to Ballroom Marfa’s music curator Sarah Melendez.

Melendez says there’s also a “community sound piece” which features ambient sounds and field recordings sent in by people throughout the region. Lange and Sword compiled the sounds into a single audio piece that will play in Ballroom Marfa’s courtyard.

“We’ve created a listening space for people to come and really spend time and, and really absorb and think and see their way through the show,” Melendez said.

(Photo courtesy of Ballroom Marfa)

The role West Texas plays in the exhibition

As part of Kite Symphony, the artists put out a composition called Kite Symphony: Four Variations. Lange, along with Marfa Musicains Rob Mazurek and Jeanann Dara, used drawings Sword made as a guide for the musical score, somewhat like sheet music.

The four tracks are filled with sounds familiar to anyone who has ever spent time in Far West Texas — the incessant buzzing of an insect, the late-night chirping of crickets and the steady humming of trains off in the distance.

“I think that there’s often this sort of misconception that the desert is empty or silent,” Melendez said. “And I think that really, this piece highlights how full of life and full of sound and full of movement there is here.”

What it’s like to finally experience the work

For Lange, as much as he thinks about his projects and work with Sword on Kite Symphony and “how it can be in my own head,” he said it’s too soon for him to say what it’s like to experience it.

“I think that’s really where I’m at with [Kite Symphony] right now,” Lange said, adding he’s just “happy that we’re here with all these good folks.”

About Carlos Morales

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.
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