The comfort of weeping soon passes;
And then it’s a bore to dispose
Of the spatters of salt on one’s glasses,
And the difficult stuff up one’s nose.
“Composed of thirty-two sculptures, utilitarian containers, and decorative objects from the Museum’s collection, Vessel Orchestra is the first sound-based installation commissioned by The Met. British artist Oliver Beer (born 1985) uses microphones and speakers to amplify and shape the ambient tones resonating within each vessel … [w]ith objects ranging in origin from ancient Persia to modern America…”
—Exhibition Overview, 2019
This Chalcolithic jar has sung high D
Since copper tools were in their infancy;
When Abraham left Ur, that storage vat
In Canaan first began to sing G flat,
While this tall, round-eyed woman-jar has sung
G natural since Egypt’s Sphinx was young…
These endless, unheard melodies are old
As what contains them, and have not turned cold;
Here in this space the vessels sound their song
With others who’ve not yet survived so long:
This warbling Shiva pot does not predate
Roe versus Wade or weary Watergate,
And these bright triplet vases have intoned
Only since deer and horses first were cloned.
See what an orchestra’s assembled here!
King David’s rhyton harmonizes clear
With Mrs. Olin Levi Warner’s bust,
Singing A flat since Bismarck bit the dust.