Black Thoughts

Ari Benjamin Meyers
September 7 – October 5, 2013

The New Empirical (840hz), 2013
Modified grand piano (Irmler, Leipzig 1893), custom-made tuning fork

 

The grand piano is manipulated to perform just one tone: A-flat (840 Hz), the single note that was left out of the main theme in the original composition by Satie. This seemingly simple intervention has required the piano to be completely rebuilt and restrung with custom-made strings. Now each of the piano keys is tuned to the A-flat. 

 

Vexations 2, 2013 (background)
Graphite pencil on paper
840 sheets of custom-made music paper 

 

Following Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long musical piece, Meyers composed his own version of the piece and, instead of playing it, wrote it down 840 times. The hand-written copies of the new music score are transcribed from memory, thus each page may contain unexpected changes. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

The New Empirical (840hz)2013
Modified grand piano (Irmler, Leipzig 1893), custom-made tuning fork

 

The grand piano is manipulated to perform just one tone: A-flat (840 Hz), the single note that was left out of the main theme in the original composition by Satie. This seemingly simple intervention has required the piano to be completely rebuilt and restrung with custom-made strings. Now each of the piano keys is tuned to the A-flat. 

 

Vexations 2, 2013 (background)
Graphite pencil on paper
840 sheets of custom-made music paper 

 

Following Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long musical piece, Meyers composed his own version of the piece and, instead of playing it, wrote it down 840 times. The hand-written copies of the new music score are transcribed from memory, thus each page may contain unexpected changes. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Vexations 2, 2013 (detail)
Graphite pencil on paper
840 sheets of custom-made music paper 

 

Following Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long musical piece, Meyers composed his own version of the piece and, instead of playing it, wrote it down 840 times. The hand-written copies of the new music score are transcribed from memory, thus each page may contain unexpected changes. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Vexations 2, 2013 (detail)
Graphite pencil on paper
840 sheets of custom-made music paper 

 

Following Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long musical piece, Meyers composed his own version of the piece and, instead of playing it, wrote it down 840 times. The hand-written copies of the new music score are transcribed from memory, thus each page may contain unexpected changes. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Vexations 2, 2013 (detail)
Graphite pencil on paper
840 sheets of custom-made music paper 

 

Following Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long musical piece, Meyers composed his own version of the piece and, instead of playing it, wrote it down 840 times. The hand-written copies of the new music score are transcribed from memory, thus each page may contain unexpected changes. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Do you have black thoughts?, Tell me about it afterwards. and Specialist in Funeral Marches, 2013

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The work pays tribute to the composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) and his eccentric habit of publishing absurd announcements in the Parisian press of the time. These obscure and absurd media interventions anticipated the methods later used by the avant-garde writers and artists affiliated with dada, surrealism and absurdist literature. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Serious Immobilities, 2013
Performance Composition for electric guitar, electric bass and female voice
Duration variable

 

The work is a music composition to be performed in an exhibition venue. It is composed for female voices (minimum 3, un-amplified), electric guitar and electric bass. The composition consists of 10 flexible modules. During the performance the singers use a system of hand movements to coordinate the sequence of the musical modules. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Serious Immobilities, 2013
Performance Composition for electric guitar, electric bass and female voice
Duration variable

 

The work is a music composition to be performed in an exhibition venue. It is composed for female voices (minimum 3, un-amplified), electric guitar and electric bass. The composition consists of 10 flexible modules. During the performance the singers use a system of hand movements to coordinate the sequence of the musical modules. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Serious Immobilities, 2013
Performance Composition for electric guitar, electric bass and female voice
Duration variable

 

The work is a music composition to be performed in an exhibition venue. It is composed for female voices (minimum 3, un-amplified), electric guitar and electric bass. The composition consists of 10 flexible modules. During the performance the singers use a system of hand movements to coordinate the sequence of the musical modules. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Serious Immobilities, 2013
Performance Composition for electric guitar, electric bass and female voice
Duration variable

 

The work is a music composition to be performed in an exhibition venue. It is composed for female voices (minimum 3, un-amplified), electric guitar and electric bass. The composition consists of 10 flexible modules. During the performance the singers use a system of hand movements to coordinate the sequence of the musical modules. 

 

Photo © Andrea Rossetti

Black Thoughts

Ari Benjamin Meyers
September 7 – October 5, 2013
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Esther Schipper is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Ari Benjamin Meyers at the gallery.

 

The artist and composer Ari Benjamin Meyers is interested in exploring modes of representation and presentation of music and musical structures in the context of visual art. His conceptual projects and installations often expose inconspicuous yet tangible details of music-making: music scores themselves, forms and arrangements of musical instruments, concert settings, and gestures of performers and conductors. At the same time his compositions and performances seek to challenge the relationship between performer and audience.

 

In the exhibition Black Thoughts Ari Benjamin Meyers pays tribute to the composer Erik Satie (1866–1925). Proposing a series of variations, re-enactments and repetitions, the show questions the concepts of originality and authenticity and the idea of what constitutes a musical performance. Satie's composition Vexations (1893) is the departure point for the installation shown in the first room of the gallery. Taking up Satie's instruction to perform 840 repetitions of the one page-long piece, Ari Benjamin Meyers displays 840 hand-written copies of his own recomposed version of the original titled Vexations 2. The grand piano (The New Empirical (840hz)) standing in the centre of the room has been completely rebuilt and restrung to perform just one tone: A-flat (840 Hz), the single note that was left out of the main theme in the original composition by Satie. The alteration can be discovered only by playing the instrument.

 

The second space of the gallery features the new composition Serious Immobilities by Ari Benjamin Meyers. Composed for female voice, electric guitar and electric bass, the piece is performed live every Saturday throughout the exhibition for the entire duration of the gallery's opening hours. For the rest of the time the instruments and abandoned props become part of the exhibition display. The title Serious Immobilities hides a tongue-in-cheek reference to the instruction that Erik Satie wrote on the original Vexations score: "In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities."

 

The exhibition reaches beyond the gallery space through a series of anonymous advertisements that concurrently appear in selected international art press and online portals. The printed phrases, for example "Do you have black thoughts?", recall Erik Satie's eccentric habit of publishing absurd announcements in the Parisian press of the time. The recurrence here of the word "black" leads back to the image of the black grand piano standing in the gallery space and to the black lines and notes of the musical notation on display.

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