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Artist Maria Chavez performs at ARTS/West Friday, March 17. (Marie Swartz/WOUB)
Artist Maria Chavez performs at ARTS/West Friday, March 17. (Marie Swartz/WOUB)

PHOTOS: Maria Chavez at ARTS/West

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Friday night avant-garde sound artist Maria Chavez performed at ARTS/West, utilizing a single turntable and an assortment of damaged records to create two hours of unique sound.

Chavez is an abstract turntablist, and she has been since her early 20s, when she grew bored of DJ-ing and found herself gravitating to free jazz and avant-garde music. Friday’s performance was a portion of Chavez’s visit to Athens County, which included an abstract turntable workshop conducted at Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville on Thursday, March 16 and a lecture alongside anthropologist Shane Greene on the Ohio University campus Friday afternoon.

Maria Chavez performs at ARTS/West Friday, March 17. (Joseph Snider/WOUB)
 (Joseph Snider/WOUB)

Chavez explained in an interview conducted a few weeks back with WOUB Public Media that she doesn’t like to associate herself with audiophiles too closely, simply because they “probably wouldn’t like what I do to records too much.”

She allows the albums that she collects for her performances to naturally degrade as much a possible, mentioning time and time again during her time in Athens that “chance and time” are the greatest artists.

(Marie Swartz/WOUB)
(Marie Swartz/WOUB)

“People treat expensive things so carefully because they want to maintain the concept of that object;s value,” said Chavez. “That’s something that my practice throws out the window. I don’t believe in maintaining the value of objects because objects are objects and nothing is perfect and every piece of playback technology has it’s own voice that makes it entirely itself.”

Chavez mentioned that a while ago one of her audiophile friends found that a rare Sun-Ra recording he had in his possession had a single scratch on it, significantly decreasing it’s market value. Her friend offered the damaged album to Chavez for her performances, and she took it, trying to incorporate it into her abstract turntable sound installations. She found that it wasn’t until she had randomly shattered an album during a performance — which happened to be the Sun-Ra recording — that she found that the fragment it had created to be truly useful during her performances.

“When you get something that is brand new, and you have it until it is completely ruined, you understand it’s voice.” said Chavez. “If you get a new thing, it’s like a new friend, and you allow it to slowly destroy itself.”

(Marie Swartz/WOUB)
(Marie Swartz/WOUB)