Brooklyn-based Chargaux ventures into The Ringling's ‘Pathless Woods’
Artist Anne Patterson’s sense-blending, immersive installation at The Ringling, “Pathless Woods,” is meant to evoke a feeling of being joyfully lost in a forest. Brooklyn-based violin-and-viola duo, Chargaux, happily ventured in March 2 for a special concert inside the exhibit’s glimmering suspended ribbons, inviting audience members to get lost along with them.
The duo, composed of Margaux Whitney and Jasmin “Charly” Charles, brought their ethereal mix of classical, hip-hop, R&B and electronic music to Sarasota for a pre-Ringling Underground performance.
The multisensory setting could not have been more fitting. Patterson created the installation as an expression of her synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that causes one sensory stimulus to trigger another. Charles also has synesthesia, which results in her hearing color.
Obscured by the expanse of dangling ribbon, which reflects light like falling rain, the duo performed covers and originals from its EP, “Broke and Baroque.” Their chemistry was obvious, as they seamlessly traded solos and improvised throughout the performance.
This connection is made all the more impressive by the fact that the two met by chance in 2011, when Whitney saw Charles performing on a Boston street corner near her corporate job. Charles suggested they jam, and they’ve been playing ever since.
Since forming, they’ve contributed music and vocals to J. Cole’s album, “4 Your Eyez Only,” as well as played the outro on Kendrick Lamar’s 2012 single, “B****, Don’t Kill My Vibe.”
The performance borrowed elements of hip-hop and jazz, nodding to early ’90s groups like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, using loops, electronic elements and dancing, off-kilter finger-plucked rhythms to create an entrancing atmosphere.
It was a curious juxtaposition to hear Chargaux’s grinding, grittier songs, no doubt influenced by life in Brooklyn, performed in the serene, forest-like setting. Obscured by their surroundings, the music took center stage, and the audience was captivated.
Some hugged the wall, nodding along. Others, more adventurous, sat front and center at the forest’s edge, peering through the ribbons and snapping photos of the elusive musicians.
If The Ringling is taking steps toward site-specific performance art, Chargaux’s “Pathless Woods” concert is a prime example of it being done right.