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Andrea Büttner: Piano Destructions

To complement the exhibition Andrea Büttner, the Walker presents the artist’s multichannel video installation Piano Destructions (2014). Piano Destructions takes as its starting point the international Fluxus performances of the 1960s, in which predominantly male artists destroyed pianos as part of their artistic process, notably George Maciunas and others represented in the Walker’s collection such as Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, and Ben Vautier. The burning, dropping, smashing, and hammering of the pianos—an instrument traditionally associated with bourgeois female education—resulted in highly charged and gendered acts.

In 2014, Andrea Büttner orchestrated a performance at the Walter Phillips Gallery (Banff, Canada) of nine female pianists playing in chorus on nine grand pianos, in counterpoint to the framing of this male aggression in art history. Selections included Romantic-era pieces by Frédéric Chopin and Robert Schumann, accompanied by two choir pieces by Renaissance composer Claudio Monteverdi, which were arranged for piano for the first time.

Recorded for nine speakers, one for each piano in the performance, Büttner’s Piano Destructions plays the concert alongside archival footage of the destructions, as each piano becomes part of a larger choir. The Walker’s presentation will also include a new large-scale woodcut by Büttner entitled Piano (2015).

Curator: Fionn Meade