BROKEN PIANOS ORCHESTRA
Berlin / 2008 - 2010
The 12 piece "Broken Pianos Orchestra" was based at Gallery Wallywoods at the Kulturhaus Weissensee (Weissensee Culture Centre) in former East Berlin. It became possible when I found a closed-down shop filled with dusty upright pianos. I phoned a contact number in the door and was able to purchase most of them for a song. Our crew spent a whole afternoon transporting them one at a time on a trolley half a mile up the road to the gallery. Ours was the perfect venue for them, large and easily accessed, and thanks to its location on the city outskirts there were no problems with neighbours (a rare luxury for any project space). We could make as much noise as we wanted - and we did.
The pianos became a kind of family and were immensely popular with visitors. Anyone could play them at any time, as long as there wasn't an actual event taking place. I began to decorate some, and invited others to do the same. Occasionally we had all 12 pianos (in the end there were 13) played on at the same time, and what a wonderful noise they produced. (As well as some video clips, there are a few recordings somewhere or other). We knew many musicians and a good number of "noise" specialists, so the methods of getting sounds out of them were as varied as the ways found to "pimp them up".
As local government closed down the culture centre and we, the last tenants, were ordered to leave, I refused to do so. With the aid of my lawyer Markus Milde we survived various eviction dates, organised demonstrations, put on "Save Our Culture Centre" events and generally made a lot of noise. After water and heating were turned off, we stuck it out a further year. But I was tilting at windmills again, and finally we had to go. At the end I began to break up the pianos. Knowing well how our adversaries, the pen-pushers and jobsworths, functioned it was clear they would get trashed anyway. Like the building itself. I had no other place for them - but I did break them up carefully and began slowly reconstructing the pieces into Piano Thrones