Fluxus East

Fluxus Networks in Central Eastern Europe

Slave Pianos

1998, founded by Rohan Drape, Neil Kelly, Danius Kesminas and Michael Stevenson in Melbourne
The artists live in Melbourne (Drape, Kelly, Kesminas) and in Berlin (Stevenson)

The aim of the Slave Pianos is to discover and follow new paths between music and fine art. One important aspect of their activities is the collection, analysis, performance and new composition of sound art, the aim being to arrive at a visual re-interpretation. The Slave Pianos have developed an international presence with their performances and exhibitions – often in cooperation with individual artists or groups, e.g. with the Arditti String Quartet or Jauna Musika. Their works include the documentary monodrama Foreign Knowledge, the chamber opera The Broccoli Maestro and The Strange Voyage of Bas Jan Ader.

The Slave Pianos entered into an intense debate with Fluxus in the various versions of their chamber opera Two Lives in Flux – and Vice Versa (now known as: Dissident Consonances). This “antiphonic acoustic theatre” can almost be classed as research. The piece is based on the scurrilous friendship between Vytautas Landsbergis, the Lithuanian music theorist, pianist and later Lithuanian head of state, and the Lithuanian emigrant, communist and Fluxus eponym, George Maciunas. Historic facts and myths, correspondence, Fluxus pieces, old (Monteverdi) and contemporary music are blended together to create a composition that triggers dialogue between various generations of artists. Besides the performances (e.g. in Berlin 2007, together with Vytautas Landsbergis, Geoffrey Hendricks, Eric Andersen, Alison Knowles, Larry Miller and Tamás St. Auby), visual elements play an important part. Maciunas’ charts, for example, in which he systemised Fluxus and set it in relation to other avant-garde trends, were rewritten for the events and appropriated for the Slave Pianos’ purposes.

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