Foto: Thomas Bruns


Broken Music Archive

Between 1981 and 2014 Ursula Block ran the sound art institution "Gelbe Musik" in Berlin as a record store, exhibition space and archive. Over all these years she assembled a unique collection of artists’ records, experimental music records and record objects. In 1989 the core items in her collection were showcased in the exhibition "Broken Music. Artists’ Recordworks" at the daadgalerie in Berlin, followed by an exhibition at Magasin in Grenoble, the 8th Biennale in Sydney and the Musée d'art contemporain in Montréal. A long out-of-print catalogue was published for this exhibition, one that is still of such great importance and in such high demand that a reprint will be published by Primary Information/New York in the fall of 2019. In recent years, parts of the Broken Music Archive have also been featured at exhibitions, for instance in 2010 at the Neuer Berliner Kunstverein and in 2012 at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. 2015 provided the first opportunity to view and listen to a small selection from this collection, the so-called "Broken Music Archive", at the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin (National Gallery at Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum of Contemporary Art – Berlin) as part of the "Dieter Roth und die Musik" exhibition.

For the National Gallery, this chance to acquire the Broken Music Archive featuring records, record objects and graphic scores is of particular interest. In its collecting activities, the gallery has also turned its attention to the genre-transcending approaches in 20th and 21st century art, and many of the artists featured in the archive repository are already represented with works in the Nationalgalerie Collection – such as Joseph Beuys, Hanne Darboven, Die Tödliche Doris, Terry Fox, Allan Kaprow, Yves Klein, Hermann Nitsch, Nam June Paik, A. R. Penck, Robert Rauschenberg, Dieter Roth, Andy Warhol and Lawrence Weiner. By making this the acquisition, key stances in experimental music, such as those of Harry Bertoia, John Cage, Bill Fontana, Takehisa Kosugi, Christian Marclay, Meredith Monk, David Tudor or La Monte Young, can also be presented. This would also ideally complement the sound works and sound installations already featured in the collection. The exhibits will be presented to the public at large, both at Hamburger Bahnhof, the Museum of Contemporary Art at the Nationalgalerie, and in the future Museum of the 20th Century (Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts) of the Nationalgalerie at the Kulturforum – where a room specially designed for listening to modern and experimental music is planned – which is in future to be supplemented by further acquisitions by younger artists. The EvS Music Foundation is supporting the purchase of this extraordinary collection.