El Perro del Mar at Moderna Museet

El Perro del Mar at Moderna Museet, 2020. Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet

19.5 2020

El Perro del Mar has composed music for the collection

In empty rooms with only the art keeping her company, Sara Assbring – who in a music context is known by her alias El Perro del Mar – has created music inspired by Moderna Museet’s collection. The resulting work FREE LAND, a concert, will be broadcast live from the museum on May 26.  It is music that has emerged during the solitude of the spring with corona but which is firmly rooted in the universal unity of art.

The original plan was for El Perro del Mar to come to Moderna Museet on Mondays when it’s closed to visitors. There, in the empty rooms with only the art to keep her company, she would create music. El Perro del Mar only managed to visit Moderna Museet a few times before the world became paralyzed by the coronavirus when her project had to continue at home.

Hi Sarah. What is it really like to walk around all alone in an art museum?

– Since I usually think of an art museum as a kind of secular holy place – a space for meditation and expansion – a sense of reverence struck me at having the opportunity to be alone there. Perhaps most significant was that I was able to be close to the works on a more intimate level. Take my time with them. That my time working in the museum coincided with the coronavirus deeply affected me. It put my work into a whole new light and made it even clearer what I wanted to do.

El Perro del Mar looking at art Moderna Museet
El Perro del Mar at Moderna Museet, 2020. Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet

You were also able to visit the warehouses where we store the art in between exhibitions. What did that feel like?

– Respect, responsibility, and reverence. Both for the artists behind the artworks but also for art museums in general and Moderna Museet in particular. There is something magical about those warehouses just being there silent and unaffected – with the strict temperature to protect the artworks – and with their incredible content of historically significant art. Artworks that have changed the world and our views on it. For all time. This is exactly what is so staggering to me. The power that art has over us and our lives, our sensory worlds, and how it has changed our societies forever.

What is your relationship to art?

– Art was ever-present in my life since I was little. Early on I realised that art was fundamental to my life and my own art. I look to art when I’m lost or searching for answers in life. In my work art is just as important. Without it, I wouldn’t find much meaning in what I do. What I find most magical about art museums is that you walk in as one person and leave as another. You can never predict what an art museum will do to you or your outlook on life. That power is incomparable.

How does one create music with art as inspiration?

– I’m very used to creating inspired by art and it’s something I have done often over the years. Many of my albums can absolutely we related to specific experiences of artworks. It works as an instigator of something inside. Variations of colours or hues which I translate into instrumentation or a rawness or attitude in brushstrokes which I then use in the music. It’s interesting how clearly one can be influenced by art. Perhaps it is precisely the wordlessness in many cases that makes the possibilities endless. The universal language.

Say something about the work FREE LAND that you have created.

– Corona has definitely been part of it. My first impulse was to create a kind of homage to the art museum or the artist. A patchwork of voices followed me as I walked alone through the empty rooms. When the museum closed and I wasn’t able to go back, when none of us could go back, the voices became clearly one. It is from these voices that I created my work.

Published 19 May 2020 · Updated 4 June 2021