A large hole has been cut out of a Bechstein grand piano so a pianist can play Beethoven’s Ode To Joy from the inside. To play it from this angle, the pianist must learn how to play backwards. If this wasn’t enough of a challenge, the piano has been propped up on wheels and the pianist pushes the instrument (or should we say, sculpture) around the room as they play.
This is physically demanding work. Peter Wilson, one of six local musicians selected to play the usual instrument, says he cannot perform the piece more than twice in a row.
The two central octaves have been removed from the piano because of the hole created to fit the pianist. Instead of hitting certain notes, some piano keys create a percussive rhythm that adds to the performance rather than hindering it.
Another intriguing element of the performance is the location. In the past Stop, Repair, Prepare has been performed in art galleries, yet this time it is performed in a library – a space usually perceived as a sanctuary of silence.
Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla have been an artistic duo for 15 years, creating works that often combine performance, sculpture, video and sound. This performance is part of Kaldor Public Art Projects, an organisation that creates innovative public projects with internationally acclaimed artists.
Stop, Repair, Prepare was first performed at Haus der Kunst in Munich in 2008, and before it arrived in Melbourne it was performed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
It will now live at the State Library until the December 6, with performances every hour on the hour.