KW Institute for Contemporary Art
Jan 15–Jan 19, 2020
Exhibition View “Pause,”  Photos by Giorgia Palmisano & Giulia Baresi
Exhibition View “Pause,” Photos by Giorgia Palmisano & Giulia Baresi

The complete collection of more than 65 pianos was commissioned by Francesco Conz (1935–2010) as a continuation of John Cage’s first artistic exploration of the medium at the end of the 1930s; the “prepared piano” is commonly understood as a piano altered by placing objects between or on the strings. Throughout the years, a wide range of artists have manipulated the instrument, moving beyond the alteration of sound to fully rethink the structure and form of the piano as a privileged place for artistic creativity.

Pursuing Francesco Conz and the artists’ exploration of the boundaries between art and music, the exhibition integrates and amplifies the visual dimension of musical performances turning performers and audiences into protagonists of a creative sound happening.

The resulting visual environment—one that is at once architectural and evocative of sound—rethinks the exhibition space as a platform for further explorations into contemporary art and sound investigations. For five days, Pause: Broken Sounds / Remote Music – Prepared Pianos from the Archivio Conz Collection will be activated through a series of performances examining various approaches to sound by extending it through poetry, movement, and musical experimentation. The program will include American visual artist and musician Charlemagne Palestine’s minimalist interpretations; an “instrumental conversation” recording session by Sky Walking; German musicians Phillip Sollmann (Efdemin) and Konrad Sprenger’s esoteric approaches to music; a vocal exploration of sound by English poet Angharad Williams and a choreographed piece by Croatian visual artist Nina Kurtela.