Sunday, February 01, 2009

Upside Down and Backwards

Yesterday, for no particular reason, we happened to stop by the Gladstone Gallery on West 24th St. They were exhibiting exactly one piece of art: Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s “Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano.” (There are several performers who play in rotation. While we were there, a young man named Sun Jun, a Julliard student, was in the piano.)

C, who has of late returned to the keyboard, appreciated the difficulty of playing this Beethoven piece – or anything – upside down and backwards. I looked for meaning, about which I’ll spare you my snark.

It was nevertheless entirely entertaining and uplifting.

Later in the day, we went to see the movie Revolutionary Road in which Leonardo DiCaprio is trapped inside Kate Winslet while they play out their life upside down and backwards. Not uplifting.


Birdie said...

I felt like I was listening to some elementary student torturing the keyboard for the required 30-minute practice. Art is supposed to move you, but my only emotion for this "piece" is boredom. I was more interested in the people picking up the papers; at least there was the chance of a backstory there. Such pretension.

Java said...

I'm underwhelmed.

Anonymous said...

Someone "being" inside a piano that was totally retrofitted and actually playing same while gliding along the floor bores you?

You must have some very exciting lives Birdie and Java.

Tony Adams said...

Dear Blindman,
If C had suggested we see this and told me what as going t happen, I would have shunned it, but to be there unprepared was delightful and the work was successful as art. It reminded me of the time we went to see Janine Antoni perform "Loving Care" at the Wadsworth Atheneum. Here is the wiki entry about that piece:
In Loving Care (1992) Antoni uses her hair as a paintbrush and Loving Care hair dye as her paint. Antoni dips her hair in a bucket of hair dye and mops the gallery floor on her hands and knees and in the process pushes the viewers out of the gallery space.

Birdie said...

Blindman and Tony,

Once again my snark comes back to bite me. (You’d think I’d learn by now.) Your comments made me reconsider my words.

As I think about my immediate response to this performance, I was duly impressed by the work done to refit the piano to its new purpose. It had to take an incredible investment of time and talent. But that build-up to the climax of a beautiful working instrument thuds in a hollow denouement upon witnessing the experiential portion of this work of art. So I suppose it did elicit an emotion from me: disappointment.

I am an eager student and willing to be led in a new direction. What did I not see?