Born out of a pandemic lockdown in Marfa, Ballroom Marfa set to debut ‘Kite Symphony’ by Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword in January

Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword, Tetra Kiss, 2021. Still from Kite Symphony, digital video for stereo sound, 27:32. Courtesy of the artists and Ballroom Marfa.

MARFA — Roberto Carlos Lange and Kristi Sword were visiting Marfa for a production trip at the invitation of Ballroom Marfa in March of 2020 when the coronavirus went global and locked down the world. The artists, Lange, a musician (often under the name Helado Negro), and Sword, a visual artist, are partners and collaborators that were at the time working on Kite Symphony, a short film with a live score.

Nearly two years later, Ballroom Marfa will present Kite Symphony, a multidisciplinary exhibition, on January 22. The work has changed shape since March 2020, and now features a newly commissioned film, outdoor composition and installation, a series of drawings, sculpture, animation and a special Earth Day performance on April 22.

Sound is the throughline between these diverse elements of this long-term project. Kite Symphony is an extension of the artists’ collaborative practice, where they create work at the intersection of music, performance and visual art.

During the early weeks of the pandemic, the artists elected to remain in Marfa and, with Ballroom’s support, extended their trip into a six-month residency. Their experience was the catalyst for Ballroom Sessions — The Farther Place, a residency program developed to support cross-disciplinary artists and musicians.

As their time in Marfa extended, Kite Symphony expanded into a full-scale exhibition, including new installation works, a community sound piece, performance and four new experimental compositions released through Ballroom’s Bandcamp. Pitchfork called the EP a “free-flowing collage that doubles as a snapshot of the project’s sprawl” and named it one of the top 20 ambient albums of 2020. The album features contributions from noted local musicians Jeanann Dara and Rob Mazurek, led by Sword’s meditative and meticulous visual scores.

The exhibition at Ballroom features an impressionistic film, which explores the imperceptible forces that shape the West Texas landscape. The video documents the artists’ observations and experiments with wind and light interacting with kites, handmade mylar instruments, found objects and native plant materials. Lange and Sword turn their gaze upwards in “Star Scores,” a piece of visual music that reflects on the region’s dark skies through handmade animations of galaxies orbiting, multiplying and expanding through an imaginary celestial space. Adjacent are Sword’s ink drawings of rhythmic and repetitive brush marks, revealing a continuous evolution of a landscape in constant motion.

Ballroom’s courtyard will be transformed into a listening space where Lange will present a new sonic installation composed of the sounds collected from the community. Taken together, all of these newly commissioned works heighten the audience’s sense of space by attuning to expansive new sonic geographies, helping us to listen in diverse ways and reminding us of our presence in a living world.

On Earth Day, April 22, 2022, Ballroom will host a day of performances with Roberto Carlos Lange and several of his musical collaborators. The show will feature live renditions of “Star Scores,” a performance of Kite Symphony, Four Variations with a live ensemble, and performances by several friends of the artists, with the full lineup to be announced in early 2022.

Kite Symphony is organized by Ballroom Marfa music curator Sarah Melendez.