RAVEL RAVEL Revisited
by Anri Sala
The audience is immersed into an entirely new experience of music, movement, sound, and space
In 2013, prominent contemporary artist Anri Sala presented an installation entitled Ravel Ravel at the French pavilion of the Venice Biennale.
«Two different interpretations of Ravel’s Left Hand Concerto for Piano and Orchestra are heard alongside one another. The respective tempos of each performance have been recomposed so that both executions continuously shift in and out of unison – one evolving slightly more slowly than the other, first creating a slight echo, then a doubling with the notes heard twice, eventually catching up, only to shift away from one another again.
My intention is to bring out the resonance of a space consecutive to the temporal lag between the two performances and, through the repetition of the same notes, to induce the impression of an echo in an entirely muted space where the absorption of the sound reflections annihilates all sense of space.
In an environment constructed according to the principles of an anechoic chamber, also referred to as a “non-place,” this paradoxically means creating an “other” space, a space “in- between” that emerges through the distinction between the two performances and resides in the interval between their respective tempos».
In 2022, Ravel Ravel takes on a new dimension: that of live performance, where celebrated pianist Bertrand Chamayou collaborates closely with Anri Sala to produce a concert version of the installation.
Two Steinway concert pianos are installed facing each other. One is a ‘Spirio’, capable of remembering and mechanically reproducing what has just been played. The audience looks on as the pianist plays the Left Hand Concerto, in synch with the orchestra that he only hears through headphones. A remotely controlled camera captures the musician’s movements from the back, projecting it onto a large screen. His silhouette mostly blocks the view of his left hand performance.
He then sits at the second piano, and the two instruments start playing simultaneously, moving in and out of synch to a carefully calibrated timing, over the orchestral parts that the audience now hears also. From its previous position the camera now seizes the musical traces that the left hand left on the keyboard, embodied by the mechanical movement of the animated piano keys.