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In the year 2018 visual artist Ken Verhoeven (1991, lives and works in Antwerp) presented his Friendship Paintings, a collection best described as “deconstructed designs for friendship bracelets”, at Trampoline gallery in Antwerp.
The subject: the friendship bracelet. A wristband infused with meaningful (?) symbols. Symbols crafted thread after thread. One pulls a string, and ... friendship happens. Or ... friendship is being manipulated by symbolism. Not unlike a fetish.
Ken Verhoeven upcycled this vulgar object and brought it inside the art gallery. Where he showed not only the designs, but also the schematics for how to craft each bracelet. Like exposing the crystals of friendship.
It is a recurring storyline in Ken Verhoeven’s work. In the words of gallerist Stella Lohaus “he constantly interprets curiosities that casually present themselves in the world around him.”
Friendship Songs For this book, Ken Verhoeven structured ten works as a dramatic narrative.
He invited me to translate these works to music. To treat them as sheet music. Graphic scores. From here on, the Friendship Paintings become Friendship Songs.
On the accompanying CD, i recorded 10 arrangements of the 10 scores. Not unlike how Ken Verhoeven only used an existing DIY online generator to create the designs – i stuck to very limited tools while arranging the music. Namely one Roland Sound Canvas module for the sounds, Christian Schubart’s seminal book about the aesthetics of the tonal arts – to determine the tonality of each score, and the Spectrotone Instrumental Tone-Colour Chart for the instrumentation. The latter being a system invented a century ago in Hollywood, to apply different colours to the various instruments and registers of an orchestra.
We arrive at objective musical interpretation. However, since we are not dealing with heartless content here, the arranger does need to take subjective decisions, to bring the arrangements home. These small musics can / should (who is the manipulator now?) be played as a friendship bracelet. Thus: as endless loops. Every song repeats itself as long as you wish for. Like the symbol on the bracelet is being repeated until the circular object is finalized. Once, twice, 10, 20, 100, ?? times. Enjoy, Friend!
Lieven Martens, Deurne 28 june 2021