If you hear the dulcet tones of Beethoven tinkling through the State Library this month, you may find yourself walking smack bang into a living sculpture that is the work of Puerto Rican art team Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, here as part of the 26th Kaldor Public Art Project.
Mastering negative space is often as important to artists as capturing the subject of a drawing, painting, print or sculpture. Stop, Repair, Prepare… makes what isn’t there the ‘hole’ point of the exercise.
The maverick artists have cut a hole from the centre of a Bechstein Grand Piano, then filled it with a pianist who plays from within while also wheeling the instrument around. But the burden is less the point, more the process of this interdisciplinary work. The hole calls attention to a space usually ignored, a house for hammers, strings and sounding board, good for reverberation but hardly fit for a musician.
The composition to be performed is actually a variation on the 4th movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, known as ‘An Ode to Joy’. The trapped pianist will creak around tinkling a weird version that drops seemingly random pieces out of the original masterpiece.
Stop, Repair, Prepare... was first exhibited in Munich at the esteemed public museum Haus der Kunst in 2008. It has since been represented in a number of museums across Europe, and famously at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where it was described as ‘a fully-fledged, crowd-pleasing masterpiece’.
“For us it’s very important that our work does not make sense,” Calzadilla told the MoMA ‘On Line’ series. “By that we mean for our work to not make sense of the world, not to make sense of things through logic ... Our work creates an emotion, a feeling, before it gets translated to language.”
The artists will appear in person to give a free talk on Friday, November 16; 1-2pm. Bookings are required: 03 8664 7099. email@example.com.