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Euroradio's Palma Ars Acustica: making sound into a fine art

15 May 2017
Euroradio's Palma Ars Acustica: making sound into a fine art
Alfredo Costa Monteiro (photo:

The jury of the Palma Ars Acustica, chaired by Elisabeth Zimmermann of ORF, has announced that the 2017 winner is Fragments of An Unfinished Tale (A Cinematic Story) by Alfredo Costa Monteiro. The work was presented by EBU Approved Participant ESCAT. The finals of this annual competition took place in conjunction with the meeting of the Euroradio Ars Acustica Group (Marcus Gammel (ARD/DKU), Chair, and Elisabeth Zimmermann (ORF), Vice-Chair), held in Vienna on 13 May at the kind invitation of ORF.

The winning artist commented: "I'm so happy to win this fantastic award! It stimulates me to continue working in the radio art field, which I find really interesting and rich in possibilities."

Alfredo Costa Monteiro is a sound artist, improviser and composer born in Portugal in 1964. He has lived and worked in Barcelona since 1992, after completing his studies in sculpture and multimedia at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris with Christian Boltanski.

In the prizewinning piece, Monteiro worked with the soundtracks of over 70 films from the Eastern European "New Wave" cinema. Jury members were impressed by the poetic strength of the historical material and the delicate sound composition. Departing from a "plunderphonic" approach, Monteiro takes the listener on an unknown and poetic journey through an unfolding magical and colourful landscape with many pleasant surprises. Fragments from the film dialogues develop an intricate musical flow, even (or especially) for those who do not understand the languages at play. Soft, minuscule sounds from the soundtrack frequently come to the foreground and tell an intriguing story of their own.

Alfredo Costa Monteiro's oeuvre is situated somewhere between sound, visual arts and visual/sound poetry. His installations and sound pieces, all of a low-fi character, have in common an interest for unstable processes, raw materials and conceptual restrictions, where the manipulation of objects as instruments or instruments as objects has a strong phenomenological aspect.

Accustomed to working in the extremes of sound, ranging from acoustic solos for paper to concerts where the volume acquires a literally physical presence, he has been working since 2001 on various projects of improvised and experimental music, using each time a different instrumentation, such as accordion, prepared guitar, various electroacoustic devices or resonant objects, in order to give these projects multiple identities and directions.

In sound poetry, his work focuses on the musicality of language and its phonetic content, always trying to maintain a balance with semantics. His poems are generally noisy and polyglot (mainly Spanish, Portuguese and French) and use combinatorial systems based on sounds common to these languages, to create multiple meanings that often lead to confusion and defy understanding.

Alfredo Costa Monteiro has numerous recordings to his credit, has given workshops throughout Europe and has collaborated with many musicians, filmmakers, choreographers and video artists. See the artist's website here. A brief interview with English translation can be heard here.



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