Peter Frank Piano Slaves, LA Weekly, March 17–23, 2000
“Slave Pianos,” another labor of collaborative love with a (baby) grand piano at its heart, involves performances, transcriptions, and translations of other artists’ work - in this case actual music. New Zealander Mike Stevenson and Australian Danius Kesminas have compiled a raft of compositions for piano (or for some sort of soundproducing device, then re-notated for piano) by erstwhile visual artists. These Stevenson and Kesminas present not on recording, but in a digital file that drives a Playola (the cybernetic version of the old player piano). So the sound is live, even if the performances aren’t. Cooler still is the roster of, er, composers: Jean Dubuffet, Louise Bourgeois, Joseph Beuys, Nam June Paik, Laurie Anderson, John Baldessari, Chris Burden, Vito Acconci, Mike Kelley, David Wojnarowicz, Paul McCarthy, Bill Viola, Dieter Roth, George Brecht, Stephen Prina, Tony Oursler, Louise Lawler, Katharina Fritsch, Martin Kersels, Thomas Lawson, Martin Kippenberger and others, including our old pal Duchamp. With the piano front and center in the tiny storefront, its lid propped open with a peculiar crucifixture edged in red like a Malevichian machine, what you hear is what you see - music of myriad means by people whose work you’d by and large expect to look at, not listen to.
‘Slave Pianos’ at China Art Objects Galleries, 933 Chung King Road; thru March 25. (213) 613–0384.
LA Weekly, March 17–23, 2000