If and Only If (modern times)
Film still milled on wooden textile printing stamp
6 x 27,5 x 37,5 cm (2 3/8 x 10 5/8 x 14 5/8 in) (sculpture)
80 x 40 x 30 cm (31 1/2 x 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in) (plinth)
86 x 40 x 30 cm (33 7/8 x 15 3/4 x 11 3/4 in) (overall)
Anri Sala's work If and Only If (modern times) is a vintage textile printing stamp with a motif etched on its surface, presented on a plinth. The carved image depicts a snail on a viola bow. It refers to the artist’s 2018 film If and Only If in which a snail travels the full length of a bow, altering the performance of the renowned violist Gérard Caussé playing Igor Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola. The performance becomes both an interactive improvisation and an exchange between the musician and the animal. As the snail moves forward or slows down, the performer responds accordingly. As a result, the original score is reinterpreted, and the composition’s duration gets extended.
Sala’s wooden sculpture expands on time, its passing and units of measurement. While in the film the tempo of Stravinsky’s Elegy is contrasted with the speed of the snail, the wooden stamp engraving creates a fossil of a film still, materializing a single frame of the ephemeral moving image.