BERLIN — The Archivio and Edizioni Conz present and preserve the archive and publishing project of Italian collector and patron Francesco Conz (Cittadella, 1935 – Verona, 2010). One aspect of that collection is a series of more than 65 pianos commissioned by Conz as a continuation of the tradition of the prepared piano established by John Cage at the end of the 1930s. In the Cage lexicon, a prepared piano is one that plays sounds augmented by objects (“preparations”) physically inserted into the matrix of the piano’s strings, hammers, and housing.
A selection of 20 of these works is currently on display at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, part of a five-day collaborative event presenting pianos prepared by Ay-O, Dorothy Iannone, Carolee Schneemann, Nam June Paik, and Ben Patterson, and many others. The exhibition is enlivened by numerous performances, including those by Charlemagne Palestine, Phillip Sollmann & Konrad Sprenger, Angharad Williams, Sky Walking, Nina Kurtela, and others.
The interventions performed on many of the pianos are wildly visual, with artists reinterpreting the function of the piano as an object, in addition to affecting the sounds it can produce. This gels with Conz’s vision of collaboration and experimentation in art collecting. According to information from the Archivo, he worked closely with artists of the main artistic avant-garde movements of his time: Fluxus, Viennese Actionism, Zaj, Lettrisme, Concrete Poetry, Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, and Gorgona. His collection of more than 3,000 items by over 150 artists are now stored in Berlin.
Additionally, Archivo Conz presents an ongoing project and collaboration with Filip Berg entitled COPY SHOP, taking place at Edizioni Conz Raum in the front building of KW. The series presents works by George Brecht, Astrid Furnival, and John Giorno, and explores the idea of multiples combined with that of merchandising of popular music concerts.
Whether you’re into instruments as art objects, experimental music scenes, or the Fluxus movement’s core notion that art must be accessible and obtainable by all, this exhibition and performance series is sure to hit the right note!
Pause: Broken Sounds / Remote Music—Prepared Pianos from the Archivio Conz Collection is presented at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art through January 19.