In celebration of Ursinus College’s 150th anniversary, the Berman Museum of Art’s 30th anniversary, and the many individuals who have collaborated in the building of our remarkable institution, the museum will present a special performance piece by Douglas Henderson titled Music for 150 Carpenters. Henderson is a sound artist whose work spans media. From electroacoustic sound to sculptural installations, he considers the sensual aspects of sound, while considering its role as a culturally charged material with social import.

Based on Henderson’s Music for 100 Carpenters, first conducted in 2009 in Brooklyn, this site-specific, multimedia piece will include a 30-minute live performance, where the audience will sit in the middle of the Main Gallery. Surrounding them along the perimeter will be 150 carpenters, consisting of not only professional, regional carpenters, but local artists, museum professionals, Ursinus faculty and staff, and of course, students. Henderson will compose an immersive sound performance featuring 150 workers, 150 sawhorses, 150 hammers, and some 10,000 nails, working in unison to create a unique score. Under the guidance of job supervisors, the sounds of construction will become waves of tonal murmur throughout the gallery. Tool belts, sweat, and lunchboxes will also be a part of the score that celebrates the college’s anniversaries with pomp, while acknowledging the diverse sources of physical and intellectual labor that are at the core of every academic and art institution.

The artist describes the project as a “moving sculpture” that uses sound to engage the architecture of the specific venue. He writes, “Confined to a limited sonic palate, I focus on architectural drama to move the music forward… As the piece progresses, a palpable sonic transcendence emerges: the physical actions of the performers cease to match the cloud of sound that they generate. The sensual reality of the piece finally evades the meanings and structures it invokes.”

At the conclusion of the main event, a multi-channel, aerial view video and audio recording of the live performance will be projected onto the gallery floor, alongside the construction installation, through March 15, 2020.


All Berman exhibitions are free and open to the public.