Daren Kendall

Daren KendallBorn in Buffalo, NY, Daren Kendall is an interdisciplinary artist and educator based in Ithaca, NY. Recent sculptural installations and events include: As the Trolley Barn Sleeps at the Richmond Street Art Festival, Richmond, VA, Chute the Quarry/Lay the Keel at 62 Hours Art Festival, Cameron Mills, NY, and Rupture, in the Cayuga Parking Garage, Ithaca, NY which is currently on view as Formwork & Ruin at Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, Ithaca, NY. Previous solo exhibitions include The Space Between Us at Caren Golden Fine Arts, Margaret Thatcher Projects in New York City, and in group exhibitions at Frederieke Taylor Gallery, The Milton Hershey School Museum, and the Avrams Gallery at Long Island University. Kendall received a BFA in Graphic Communications & Art Direction from the College for Creative Studies, Detroit, and a MFA with a concentration in interdisciplinary art practice from Cornell University, where he received the John Hartell Graduate Award for Art and Architecture from the College of Architecture, Art & Planning. He has taught sculpture and printmaking in the Department of Art at Cornell University, and co-taught Art, Technology, & Theory in the Cornell Department of Information Science. As a visiting artist, he has presented work at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, Department of Art and at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design. He is currently developing cross-disciplinary projects, research, and coursework with colleagues from the Cornell Department of Music, Cornell Department of Material Science and Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Art, and the Pennsylvania College of Art Department of Fine Art.

Artist’s Statement

My interdisciplinary research and practice responds to the conditions of a given space in order to generate sculptural forms and stage improvisational events. The way experimental musicians might prepare materials or objects to modify the sound of their instrument, I approach each site and art making in a similar way. A room in an historic house, a pedestrian courtyard, a stone quarry, or an abandoned trolley barn initiate a conversation of ideas with their preexistent forms and history of utility. I respond to the conditions which dictate behavior, such as walls, ceiling, floor, entrance, egress, context, acoustics, and light; in order to amplify the systems in place and repurpose the environment through sculptural installation and collaborative events. Materials such as concrete, steel, plaster, wood, and safety glass, used in the construction become also musical instruments, tools, devices, and props in performance.


Rupture, describes the desired effect of a sculptural installation and event, which took place in an undeveloped commercial space in downtown Ithaca, NY. The site was prepared with a poured concrete wall, constructed and calculated to break in an electroacoustic performance. In preparation, a stringed instrument was created to generate the frequency required for the concrete structure to physically vibrate and collapse. Instrument for Annie was designed to complement musician Annie Lewandowski’s improvisational playing style with prepared piano. For her contributing performance, the unused keyboard, mechanical action, and obstructing outer shell have been eliminated to provide a transparent framework and reveal the inner working of the musician in full view.

Rupture (Installation view & performance stills), 2013, Cement, aluminum, steel, stringed instrument. In performance with Annie Lewandowski, & Taylan Cihan.


Initiating the event, Kendall detached the first and smallest pair of transparent panels encasing the poured concrete form, mindful to the sound of the ratchet as it turned and as each bolt hit the floor. Hunched over her instrument, Lewandowski listened, watched, and amplified the space with resonating tones and timbre, in conversation with the sound of his methodical labor. One-by-one, the concrete crusted panels were peeled away and orchestrated on the floor, offering acoustic textures in their maneuvering and a visual index of the deconstructed shell. An ominous sounding drone intensified as the last and largest panels were removed, releasing the thin concrete cast from its supporting formwork completely. Strategically positioned and prepared to transform the instrumental performance into resonant frequency, Cihan supplied Kendall with a device to equip the exposed form before retiring. Together Lewandowski and Cihan produced a deafening tone, sending physical vibrations through the space and the form while the audience watched, listened, and waited in suspense from a safe distance.


by Danni Shen

Institutional detritus resurrected. A concrete growth enshrined by its plexi membrane, the structural arc is a site-specific installation activated through the performative. As modernization to the 21st century has allowed for the most prolific construction of infrastructure in human history, the industrial ascent has also left behind more built environment to be forgotten than ever before. What becomes of these neglected spaces? To what potential can such spaces be repurposed and revitalized?

In an investigation within one of these many crypts of human innovation, artist Daren Kendall in collaboration with musician Annie Lewandowski, invite spectators into an immersive sensory experience. Raw architectural form is given its own agency in the performative construction site, as its materiality is exposed and made vulnerable through a removal of its protective shell; acoustic amplifies sculptural, transforming the experience of in situ. In a human response to the inhumane, notions of the manufactured consumerist space, take on the Zen-spiritual, as the site is given a voice of its own.

IN AN EPOCH of institutions and galleries “embracing” the industrial space, there is a certain desensitized and even dis-acknowledgment of the “new” and adapted art venue. Perhaps these once abandoned spaces, now hardly speak to histories of labor at all. Cleaned out, painted, rewired, relit, or rationally divided- in essence, a remodernization where modernity has fallen out, towards the “white cube”; consumption in its art form takes a new place.

It is thus in redefining and altogether defying these very notions of the institutionalized space that makes, RUPTURE, so paradoxically charismatic. Like all of Daren Kendall’s site-specific work, there has been no manipulation to pre-existent forms of the built environment. There is a distinct viewer awareness of the found space in its industrial vacancy- of exposed pipes, cold concrete, construction residue-pure Junkspace. Sculptural form is built directly upon the ground up. The structure, a colossal growth, resides in its plexi shell. Concrete born of concrete. Yet the mere one inch thickness of the wall-like mass denotes an elegance, as well as a precarious fragility. The structure, in its very creation, speaks to an experimental form. There is an agency of materiality, rendered through the warped panels, stunning surface variation, and potential instability. It is not a monument. It is not a wall. With no clear center point within its curvature and inclination, it functions as an object in its between-ness. Yet this, is only considering RUPTURE in an installation state. Inactive without the performance, during which temporal and aural behaviors inform the sculptural, the work lies dormant.

The Event

04.26.13. ~8:30PM.
Cayuga Parking Garage, Ithaca, NY.
Duration: ~2 Hours.

From the moment of entrance, there is no disregarding the charge of the concrete site. Every sound reverberates. Monolithic panels sit as blank backlit deities before the performance shrine; the gaps between, reveal the installation arena and the structure itself, a 50-foot form is ensconced on what resembles a dimly lit film set. Wires protrude and extend from the structure, as if monitoring some inner pulse through the adjoining computer screen, manned by artist Taylan Cihan. An audible pulse resonates from an external organ, wired 20 feet away. A sleek model. An isolated machine. A metallic piano perhaps- a hybrid in terms of form, function, as well as its distinctive sonic qualities. As with every aspect of the installation itself, Kendall has built the instrument- a fusion of the harpsichord/ harp/ prepared piano/ electric guitar- from scratch aluminum, brass, safety glass, and other industrial materials. In its locating, the instrument is designed for the transparency of the musician-Annie Lewandowski. Placed between two lighting foci, Lewandowski stands out in the open, unhidden from the viewers, who sit or stand just beyond the lit edge, creating the border between performer and audience.

With no discernable cues, no specific start nor end point, the performance has no defined duration, focus, nor trajectory. The eerie reverberations of the instrument draw viewers into a meditative state, as they filter in one by one, or group by group. It is not until Kendall himself merges into the space of the structure and begins removing, carrying, then arranging its plexi-panel encasing by hand, that there arises a sense of mounting tension. Though impromptu, every move is deliberate. Footers are detached, screws dropped, panels removed, and then systematically arranged onto the ground in a laborious process.

Reverberations of the performative, meld with instrumental sound throughout. At times, the amplified drone emulates that of a Buddhist temple; at others it escalates, an eerie lament, an epic war mantra. Augmented to rock concert levels, the immersive experience takes on an absurd dichotomy of “electro-spiritual”, to deafening heights. Yet it is in the moments of decrescendo, that immaterial transforms material. The concrete seems to shudder, metal shrieks, panels groan, as the structure sighs, gradually freed from a weight, or perhaps on the edge of collapse. The sounds of the site, become uncanny voices. Its resonances penetrate the still.

While viewers remain immersed in the unraveling of experience, most seem only hazily aware of the very real prospects of danger which exist during the performance span. The plexi panels, which incrementally increase to a colossal height of 9 feet, span of 5 feet, become an arduous load to even remove. At one point, Kendall begins dragging the panels, merely letting them fall to the ground. At several moments, he rests from the tremendous exertion. Although the audience must acknowledge his performer presence within the site, the focus is not about an organic figure in space. Rather so, Kendall and Lewandowski, act as mediators between object, site, and viewer. Kendall is a worker in the labor space, the machine in a construction site. His body and presence are not, through which interactions takes place. It is thus in its activated state, that the structure exerts its own presence, transcending notions of objectness by taking on an agency of its own. Kendall is thus able to achieve an elevated state, through an object that no longer exists as an object, and that relates back to the site itself. In a transportation to the realm of the structure. viewers in turn, are made more aware of their surroundings, and the forms, which are grounded in such a dimension.

There is a suspense which builds and remains, even after the two-hour revealing. The site seems to regenerate into itself- a rebirth from industrial sediment. The residue is as vital as the structure; like an organism freed from its shell, there is a pre-form and an after form. In the end, the temporal duration of the piece leaves the site as it was pre-use. The bare structure is non-confrontational in its presence, almost vulnerable in its new blatancy. And it is not about drama. It is not about spectacle. It is perhaps only, what remains of a lifetime, of civilizations, of an ephemeral existence, of an industrial machine.

– Danni Shen

Click here to view the video.