Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

Stifter’s Dinge

Posted by Alix on 3 May 2008

It’s been over a week since I saw this, finding the time for blogging seems to get harder. And I’m lazy. Incredibly lazy.

Anyhay, Stifter’s Dinge was being put on by Artangel , it’s by Heiner Goebbels. I went to see it the other week – it’s kind of hard to describe – reviews mention phrases like ‘inside out pianos’ and ‘disembodied voices’ but words don’t really do it justice, and I don’t imagine for a minute I can capture it properly.

It’s a performance where the performers are 5 pianos, piled on top of each other to create a tall wall, with the innards showing, programmed somehow to play themselves. The ‘Wall of Piano’ is set about 30ft back from the front row of the audience, and between it and them are 3 rectangular, so shallow as to be almost flat, pools of water. The performance starts in dim light with stagehands setting up these pools, and filling them with water and dye from large vats to the side of the space. Throughout the performance these pools and the space overhead are where the visual action takes place, beautifully minimal techniques are employed – like coloured light being scanned across the still surface of the water, or fierce, fading to languid dry ice puffing across the floodlit surface of the water, or a peaceful passage of the piece where artificial rain falls onto the pools, accompanied by gentle and melancholy piano. It was captivating, and drew one in to the dreamlike atmosphere created, although at times it was so minimal that it was boring. Towards the end the pianos slowly advanced, almost menacingly, towards the audience, reaching a small crescendo of sound; the pools below the piano contraption filled with rapidly bubbling liquid nitrogen (at least that’s what I think it was), then the pianos retreated, leaving us looking at the 3 pools, watching the bubbles die down.

The piece was technically remarkable, and revelled in slow development and changing of moods, and although a surreal set-up, it gave the audience a lot of time to appreciate very gradual and minimal effects – the line between feeling unrushed and feeling bored, is, I guess, a personal one – for me I enjoyed the opportunity to do things like watch dry ice gradually dissipate, and listening to fake rain. That said, I’m not sure I could have sat on the small, cramped seats for that much longer!

I almost forgot to mention the venue – P3 is an ex concrete testing facility – a huge, cavernous space, with vestiges of industry (safety posters etc) still in place. It’s on the Marylebone Road, near the ‘Best Loos in London’ toilets opposite the Planetarium – you really wouldn’t think this big space was there if you just walked past. I believe it’s part of the University of Westminster.

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2 Responses to “Stifter’s Dinge”

  1. Elly said

    I’m impressed you managed to review this work without resorting to any of the following words ‘mushrooms, yaffle, mouse, professor, organ, on’.

    Ok, maybe ‘on’.

  2. […] Dinge – Heiner Goebbels (2008) -I saw this with Alix who managed to review it very […]

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