Diana Policarpo

Dissonant Counterpoint (2017)

Curated by Anna Jehle & Juliane Schickedanz

Two Movements: Three songs for Soprano and Clarinet (Beyer, 1934–38) + The Spheres (Policarpo, 2017)
4-channel electroacoustic composition
Composition: Johanna Beyer, Diana Policarpo
Bass Clarinet: Emmy Beber
Mastering/ Mixing: Brendan Feeney / Wave Studios London
21’ 20’’ (loop)

Three Songs for Soprano
and Clarinet
(Beyer, 1934–38) LED board, text

I. Total Eclipse
II. To Be
III. Universal-Local

8’10’’ (loop)
120 x 15 x 40 cm

From Leipzig to the Bronx: Letters from Beyer to Cowell (1935–41) + Status Quo/Music of the Spheres: Opera Typescript (Beyer, 1938) 5-Channel Sound Sculptures
Applied materials: Perspex, speakers, metal

Spoken word: Emmy Beber
12’ 54’’ (loop)
Dimensions variable.

Produced by Kunstverein Leipzig
Co-produced by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation




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Dissonant Counterpoint

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    The publication Dissonant Counterpoint (2017)
    44 pages, five color Risography, first edition of 250 copies 
    Texts by Anna Jehle and Juliane Schickedanz
    Design by Gloria Glitzer (Franziska Brandt & Moritz Grünke)
    Out of print

The performance-installation Dissonant Counterpoint is another chapter in Diana
Policarpo’s extensive research, ransom and reinterpretation of the oeuvre of
ultramodernist composer Johanna M. Beyer (1988-1944), a seminal name – albeit
rendered highly invisible and marginalized – in electronic music and experimental
composition. By bringing into dialogue Beyer’s work and life, according to a feminist
political perspective and resorting to a device that is set in motion by parallel trajectories
– sound, text, sculpture –, Diana Policarpo appropriates, inscribes in the present
and breathes life into the musical legacy of the German-American composer, drawing
attention to the historical discrimination and invisibility of women (a single, immigrant
woman of the 1930s, in Beyer’s case) as well as to a fundamentally androcentric
and limiting artistic canon.

Dissonant Counterpoint repositions and reworks two compositions by Johanna M. Beyer.
Status Quo/Music of the Spheres (1938), an unfinished political opera adapted by
Policarpo in The Spheres (2017), and Three Songs for Soprano and Clarinet (1934),
whose three corresponding poems, elegies to the movements of the cosmos and life
written by Beyer, are also present in this installation in a situation of constant tension
with the holistic character of Music of the Spheres – Beyer considered rhythm and sound
as antagonists, both in music and in nature and the cosmos. Policarpo also evokes
Beyer’s words using excerpts of her letters (1935-41) to American composer Henry
Cowell in a spoken word audio piece by Emily Beber. In line with the spirit of the politically
powerful finale of Music of the Spheres, in Dissonant Counterpoint Diana Policarpo
offers a sort of posthumous social-political catharsis for Johanna M. Beyer.

By Mariana Duarte

(Photo: Casper Saenger)


Dissonant Counterpoint | Belo Campo & Galeria Francisco Fino | Lisbon | 26.01.18 - 01.03.2018

Diana Policarpo: Agência Reverberante | article by Sofia Lemos | Contemporânea | Jun. 2018

Dissonant Counterpoint part of Vanishing Point | Cordoaria Nacional | Lisbon | 15.05.2019 - 01.09.2019