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By Culturekiosque Staff

SYDNEY, 12 MAY 2010 — Every two years, the Biennale of Sydney stages a three-month exhibition, along with a program of artist talks, performances, forums, film screenings, family events, guided tours and other special events, all free to the public.

As part of the 2010 Biennale, performance artists, Slave Pianos, invite the public to witness the brutal arrest of a piano which is found guilty of treachery and sentenced to execution by hanging.

Entitled  The Fatal Score or The Spectacle of the Scaffold (The Way Up and the Way Down are One and the Same), the piece opens with a recital by virtuoso pianist Michael Kieran Harvey. The recital is interrupted suddenly by the arrival of the Royal Australian Navy, led by actor Richard Piper, who arrest the piano for ‘crimes against humanities’, and transport it across the island to Building 142. On arrival, the unlucky piano is sentenced to ‘be hanged by the neck until dead’. A chamber music concert is given as the piano ascends the scaffold, and a wake held once the execution has been carried out. For the duration of the exhibition the gallows is the resting place for the now mechanically operated piano. The gallows, itself a meta-mechanical musical instrument incorporating an auto-lyre and archival auto-icon counterweight, is designed to operate in a continuous cycle of execution and redemption. Titled Penalogical Pianology: The Timbers of Justice, the installation looks at colonial and musical history, continuing the group’s exploration of avant-garde practice in art and music.

Slave Pianos' Neil Kelly, Rohan Drape and Danius Kesminas.
Photo: Simon Schluter

Slave Pianos is comprised of artists Danius Kesminas and Michael Stevenson, musicians Neil Kelly and Rohan Drape, and inventor David Nelson. The group operates within a taxonomic methodology taking as its subject the historical avant-garde such as the oeuvre of the American ethnomusicologist, archivist, artist and experimental filmmaker Harry Smith, whose life and 1952 anthology of historic American folk recordings were an inspiration to musicians and artists.

Slave Pianos: The Fatal Score or The Spectacle of the Scaffold (The Way Up and the Way Down are One and the Same)
16 May 2010 at 3:00 pm
Cockatoo Island
Sydney Harbour
Tel: (61) (02) 9368 1411

The 17th Biennale of Sydney
43/51 Cowper Wharf Rd
Woolloomooloo NSW 2011, Australia

BOOK TIP: All titles are chosen by the editors as being of interest to Culturekiosque readers.  

No Such Thing as Silence: John Cage's 4'33" (Icons of America
By Kyle Gann

Hardcover: 272 pages 
Yale University Press (March 2010)
ISBN-10: 0300136994
ISBN-13: 978-0300136999

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