Altered Pieces - Curated by Gordon Froud

The Loudest Silence


The Collaboration or extension:

A few years back, I encountered Gerhard Jacobs who also has a keen interest in Cohen and has been collecting interviews of Cohen with a view to writing a production around what the man has to say. His intention (if I understand it correctly) is to use excerpts of interviews as the starting point for a performance which will be interspersed with key songs from Cohen’s oeuvre. While Cohen’s songs are played (using Kruger and band’s own versions – mostly - the intention was not to have just another SA Cohen tribute show) Visuals will be projected to form a 3d collage of image, text, artworks and quotes to accompany them. I was excited by the concept and how this does and can link in with the visual artist exhibition that I had conceptualised. We discussed the possibility of the two productions operating in tandem. It would make sense to operate the two productions in the same space. We have secured the top floor of the Snowflake Building in Potchefstroom for the Aardklop festival, converting it into an intimate theatre with the altarpieces on the walls. The artworks will be seen during off stage times and can be viewed by the theatre audiences before and after the show and during the intervals. This should provide maximum exposure of the works and be a drawcard to get more people to snowflake and ultimately to see the other art shows there. I have included some of the very talented South African artists that I have worked with in the past on the show.

The Altarpieces: 

In order to facilitate an effective and contained exhibition as well as a conceptual link, artist and academic Gordon Froud have devised an altarpiece format on which artists will work. The supawood altarpiece has two doors that close over a central panel. The outer side panels house the image of a Cohen album (CD size) (on the left), the lyrics (on the right), 1 or 2 small speakers and a microchip of the selected song that will play when the doors are opened. The inner panels are clear for the artist to work in. The artist will work on the outside and inside panels to create their piece using their Cohen song as a starting point or reference. In addition, artists will be asked if they have an alternate version of that song that they would like included on the microchip. Why an altarpiece? According to Froud "the music of Cohen often makes references to various religions, belief systems and religious images that span the depths of Judaism, Christianity and Buddhism. His narratives also lend themselves to this format and allow the artist to work on a singular image or on a series of images. It is not a religious show or interpretation of religion through the eyes of Leonard Cohen, but rather a format like an album that will unify the show. This will also make the curation or hanging of the show easier as the pieces will all be the same size and material and the hanging devices will all be in exactly the same place". The medium is unrestricted. Initially each artist will submit 3 options of songs to work with and these will be allocated on a first come first served basis. The curator of the exhibitionAltered Pieces, Gordon Froud, did not want more than one artist working with a particular song.



Leonard Cohen has been a major influence for artists, musicians, poets, writers and thinkers for more than 50 years. He is considered as one of the Godfathers of folk and poetic rock and is held in high esteem by musicians, singers and artists. I have personally seen Cohen as a pillar of inspiration and as a master wordsmith whose ability to create disturbing narratives alongside surreal juxtapositioned images. From his achingly beautiful love songs to his social and political critical anthems, Cohen has been a part of our growing up process. His wit, wisdom, humour and cynicism along with melodies thumped out on an old guitar are lasting and meaningful to many generations and to this day, new generations discover him for themselves. At the age of 73, Cohen is still on a world tour playing to sold out audiences.