Installation view of Mia Salsjo’s <em>A Score for Fed Square</em> 2023 on display as part of the <em>Melbourne Now</em> exhibition at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne from 24 March – 20 August 2023. Image: Sean Fennessy

Mia Salsjö

Mia Salsjö
(b. 1977, Melbourne. Lives and works in Melbourne)

Mia Salsjö is an Australian artist and composer of Albanian and Swedish descent. Grounded in complex, code-based systems, her multidisciplinary practice encompasses drawing, music composition, text, performance, video and textile-based works. By linking these diverse media through underlying linguistic systems, Salsjö’s work reflects on the elusive and fluid nature of communication.

Scoring and performing music is a major part of Salsjö’s practice. A score for Fed Square builds on the artist’s explorations and analyses of single architectural structures – from Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Fed Square to the buildings of the National Art Schools complex in Havana, Cuba – in musical form. In this ambitious new composition, commissioned by Fed Square and the NGV, Salsjö expands this ongoing exercise to encompass Federation Square and the NGVA building architecture. A score for Fed Square comprises works on paper, a written musical score and a recording and performance of the work by a group of musicians from the MSO. It’s a sonic articulation of the building and an interpretation of the architect’s original drawings, marginalia and notes.

According to Salsjö, the process entails both an intuitive and empirical gleaning of information, taking in the ambience of the space and its history and significance to the community, while also analysing the numeric dimensions of the plans. She designs a constellation of data points from this assessment and spins them across stave lines. In the preparation the numeric values of the principal architectural forms govern the timing of the score, while the vertical and horizontal coordinates are mapped onto stave lines, rendering melodic structures directly.

Based in Melbourne, Salsjö worked for many years in Havana, Cuba, and in Indonesia, where both music and architectural traditions influenced her practice. Her work has been performed and presented in many exhibitions, including Modes of Translation at the 13th Havana Biennial, Cuba (2019), and The Score at Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne (2017). In 2022 she composed A score for Fed Square in celebration of the Melbourne landmark’s anniversary, commissioned by Federation Square and the National Gallery of Victoria and performed by musicians from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. She is a current studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary (2020–23).

A score for Fed Square was co-commissioned by Federation Square and the NGV. The work is made possible with the support of the MSO.