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Your work often addresses both the material conditions of objects as well as their cultural and historical significance; how do those factors interact in this piece?
We're very conscious that there's a burden of history, and it's up to you how you want to deal with it. Everything around us has a history to it. This pen that I'm holding in my hand [holds up pen] is not just a pen, but it has a material that came from something, there's an economy that made it develop into the form and function that it has, and somehow it got into here and now I can make a documentary of this object, and see how it has social and cultural significance, but also gravity and shape and weight. We're very much aware of that and interested in it, and also the symbolic dimension of materials, their uses.
In regards to the sculpture itself, it's a grand piano, so it's not just any object. Like you say, it has this very specific cultural history. We wanted to make a cut through the piano, make a whole in the piano, and introduce verticality to the horizontal form of the piano. And of course what that does is it removes two octaves of the functioning keys of the piano and it makes them silent, makes them sound differently because you still hear their ticking: tick, tick, tick and tocking of the keys. So it's not completely silent but it completely negates the musical keys and tones, changing them completely. So this sculptural procedure was done to the object, and its function as we know it has been changed: now the pianist is gonna play from within the piano and is going to be moving the object, so the function of the object as we know it has completely been changed.
We needed to find a piece of music that we could also put a hole through, so that we could make a section of it silent. We knew that it couldn't be any piece of music, it needed to be one specific piece of music, so this sculpture can only play one piece of music. It took us a while to figure out which piece of music; in the end we chose "The Ode to Joy" because of its symbolic and historical uses, and what it seeks to represent and embody in terms of brotherhood, national pride and all of these things. And so we felt like this was the piece of music we wanted to put a hole through. We wanted to put a cut through it, a silence through it. That's basically what happens in this work: it's a combination of this object with this sculptural procedure and this piece of music that has transcribed through it a hole, a silence to it. And so the work sounds incomplete, it sounds unbalanced, it doesn't function the same way it that functioned before, musically. In each of these things we're interested in the symbolic dimension: the fact that this piece of music has a silence in it that it didn't have before; the fact that it doesn't sound the same way that it sounded before; that it sounds out of tune; that it doesn't function the same way it functioned before. All of those things were very interesting to us, playing with the concrete materiality, with things, and playing with the symbolic dimension of things.
Also the piano is a grand piano, so it's heavy: we were interested in this heaviness, the heaviness of this instrument, the heaviness of this music, the heaviness of what the music represents. We wanted this to be felt, to be sensed when the public sees the person pushing the piano. So it's this burden of history, this big heavy thing that you're pushing that has been made partially incomplete and at times it doesn't sound properly. Nevertheless there's this effort to keep moving, to keep pushing. For us it's very important for a work not to make sense. And by that we mean works that don't make sense of the world through logic and reason. Work that has an absurdity to it. At the same time we're very interested in sense and sensing, in terms of emotions and affects. And sound is very important in those terms. Sound can move you. That's a common expression—"it's a moving song"—and that's what we think sound does great. It moves you and before you know what that movement is it becomes language or it becomes something recognizable and you can say "it was a beautiful experience" or "it was an awful experience," before you actually contain it with language and logic it exists as an experience, and we like that very much in this work, and with sound in general.