Jane Benson: The Splits
Abron Arts Center (466 Grand St., Manhattan)

The Splits, a new collaborative music performance created by visual artist Jane Benson, centers on acts of cutting and splicing, regeneration and proliferation. Using precision hand saws Benson has cleaved cheap, mass-produced string instruments from China: two violins, a viola, cello and double bass. The two halves are then played together by pairs of musicians, exploring a range of unexpected tones described by her collaborator New York composer Matt Schickele as “alien folk music”.

The premiere of The Splits will involve duets, octets and dectets performing an original score by Schickele. Written specifically for these unique instruments, Schickele’s compositions intertwine rural and metropolitan traditions into a surprisingly accessible wash of strings. Sometimes enraged, sometimes contemplative, Benson’s latest project embraces the impulses and repercussions of fracture with elegance and humor.

This performance is in conjunction with the exhibition The Splits by Jane Benson, featuring the artist’s bisected instruments and cases and eviscerated songsheets. On view in the Charles E. Culpeper Gallery March 6-April 16, 2011.