The artist duo Allora & Calzadilla will show the work “Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on ‘Ode to Joy’ for a Prepared Piano” from 30 September to 30 October 2022 in the upper hall of the New National Gallery. The 30-minute performance will take place eight times a day, on the hour from 10am to 6pm. In a mixture of sculpture and performance, the artists have chiselled a hole in the middle of an early 20th century Bechstein piano, creating a gap in which the performer stands and plays the fourth movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, usually referred to as the “Ode to Joy”. During the performance, a pianist bends over the piano keyboard and plays upside down and backwards as she*he moves the instrument through the Mies van der Rohe hall.
Image above: Allora & Clazadilla Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations On “Ode To Joy” For A Prepared Piano 2008 Präpariertes Bechstein Klavier, Pianist*in (hier: Amir Khosrowpour) Installationsansicht: Gladstone Gallery © Allora & Calzadilla Courtesy the artists and Gladstone Gallery Foto: David Regen
During the month-long exhibition, the works will be performed by the following pianists: Ben Cruchley, Eleni Mitrousia, Galina Ryzhikova, Ido Ramot, Marcin Wieczorek, Paolo Gorini, and Luca Leracitano.
Klaus Biesenbach, Director of the Neue Nationalgalerie: “The works of the Puerto Rican-based Puerto Rico-based artist duo present interpretations of Beethoven’s famous 9th Symphony, which has been considered a symbol of universal humanity since its premiere two centuries ago. Allora and Calzadilla explore the inner complexity of this musical masterpiece. By looking closely at the musical structure of the score, the artists examine the meaning of the Marcia allá Turca, which serves as a musical foil for the themes of joyful unanimous embrace for which the “Ode” is known. Just as the musical composition was indeed born out of conflict – the ongoing conflicts between the Habsburg and Holy Roman Empires and the Ottoman Empire at the time of Beethoven’s writing – the resulting musical tract was also used in ideological contexts that completely contradicted the ideals the music was meant to represent. It has been loved by dictators, fascists, terrorists, revolutionaries and demonstrators alike, and is perhaps best known today as the anthem of the European Union. In the current situation where Europe is once again in conflict, the question of who is included in the universal embrace seems more urgent than ever. Allora & Calzadilla’s incomplete, backward-looking, inverted version of the ‘Ode to Joy’, performed by a single pianist struggling to mobilise this mighty instrument in the halls of the New National Gallery, a venue that bears the national idea in its name, reveals not only the deep contradictions and ambiguities in Beethoven’s famous composition, but also the project of enlightenment itself.”
The sculptural object of the performance from 2008 is a prepared Bechstein piano from the early 20th century, in the centre of which a hole has been sawn. A pianist stands in it and plays the famous fourth movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony. Because of her position inside the piano, the performer is forced to play the fingering on the keys both upside down and backwards. In addition, the incision in the piano renders two octaves ineffective. This structurally incomplete version of the ode creates different variations of both tonal and physical dynamics between the player and the instrument. At the same time, the performer moves through the space, pushing the grand piano, which is on castors, with her through the Mies van der Rohe hall.
Since 1995, Allora & Calzadilla have been working experimentally in the fields of film, performance and sculpture. Since 1995, Allora & Calzadilla have worked experimentally in film, installation, performance and sculpture, exploring concepts of authorship, nationality, borders and democracy in an increasingly global and consumerist society. Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) studied at the University of Richmond in Virginia (1996) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (2003); Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana, Cuba) studied at the School of Fine Arts, San Juan, Puerto Rico (1996) and at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York (2001). In 2011, Allora & Calzadilla graced the US Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale, where they exhibited a tank. They were nominated for the Hugo Boss Prize (2006) and the NamJune Paik Award (2006). The performance “Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on “Ode to Joy” for a Prepared Piano, 2008″ was acquired for the collection of the Museum of Modern Art New York by Klaus Biesenbach and exhibited in MoMA’s main atrium in 2010/11, who at the time co-founded the museum’s performance department.
30. September – 30. October 2022
Potsdamer Straße 50, 10785 Berlin