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Allora & Calzadilla’s “Stop, Repair, Prepare” at Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin

Variations on “Ode to Joy” for a Prepared Piano

October 1–30, 2022

From October 1–30, 2022, the Neue Nationalgalerie will exhibit Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on “Ode to Joy” for a Prepared Piano by Allora & Calzadilla. The hourly performance lasts for 30 minutes and occurs eight times daily from 10 am to 6 pm.

In this sculpture-performance hybrid, the performers stand in the center of a Bechstein piano from the early 20th century and play the Fourth Movement, commonly known as “Ode to Joy,” of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. A pianist will move the piano around the Mies van der Rohe Hall while playing upside down and in reverse while leaning over the keyboard.

Klaus Biesenbach, director of Neue Nationalgalerie: “The work by the Puerto Rico-based artist duo presents interpretations of Beethoven’s famous 9th symphony, which since its premiere two centuries ago, has been used to symbolize universal brotherhood. Allora and Calzadilla’s work illuminates the internal complexities behind this musical masterpiece. By looking closely at the musical structure of the score, the artists consider the relevance of the Turkish March that serves as a musical foil for the themes of joyful brotherly embrace that the ‘Ode’ is known for. Just as the musical composition is, in fact, structured out of conflict—the ongoing conflicts between the Habsburg and Holy Roman Empires and the Ottoman Empire in the time of Beethoven’s creation—the resulting musical tract has likewise been used in ideological contexts that outrightly contradict the ideals the music is intended to represent. This symphony has been praised and instrumentalized in equal measure and is perhaps best known today as the anthem of the European Union. In the current situation, with Europe once again in conflict, the question of who will be included in the continental embrace seems more urgent than ever. In a venue that bears the word “national“ in its namethe work by the artists reveals the deep contradictions and ambiguities not only in Beethoven’s famous composition but also in progress and civilization itself.”

Jennifer Allora (b. 1974, Philadelphia) and Guillermo Calzadilla (b. 1971, Havana) live and work in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Solo exhibitions have taken place at The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas; Tate Modern, London; Serpentine Gallery, London; Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Castello de Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia; MAXXI, Rome; Fundacio Antoni Tapies, Barcelona; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Renaissance Society, Chicago; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain; among others. Allora & Calzadilla represented the United States at the 54th Venice Biennale in 2011. In 2015, they made the site-specific installation “Puerto Rican Light (Cueva Vientos)”, a Dia Art Foundation commission on the southern coast of Puerto Rico.

Klaus Biesenbach acquired Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on ‘Ode to Joy’ for a Prepared Piano from 2008 for the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and presented the work as a solo exhibition in the main atrium of the Museum of Modern Art in 2010/11.

Throughout the month-long exhibition the work will be performed by the following pianists: Ben Cruchley, Paolo Gorini, Eleni Mitrousia, Ido Ramot, Galina Ryzhikova, Marcin Wieczorek. Musical Director: Luca Ieracitano

The exhibition is curated by Klaus Biesenbach, director and Lisa Botti, assistant curator.

Courtesy of Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Torino on loan from Fondazione per l’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea CRT.

Neue Nationalgalerie
Potsdamer Str. 50
10785 Berlin