November 24, 2014

Publication for LABOR Gallery, Mexico City
January-February, 2015

November 24th, 2014


The reeling sound of indeterminacy and chance—amplified and projected throughout the exhibition space—was the day´s biggest surprise. In the early afternoon of November 24th, 2014, artist Raphael Montañez Ortiz destroyed a 1987 Kimball baby grand piano at gallery LABOR. Titled Dada con Mama, the artist began this intimate yet violent public ritual by deliberately encircling the work´s central instrument. Picking up pre-arranged glasses filled with kosher salt and situated equidistantly around the piano, he drew a granular circle within the exhibition space. After delineating this stage of subsequent action, Ortiz then sang a guttural incantation informed by a half-century of research into his Yaqui heritage and transcendental sound: a cathartic ambiance that sonically underscored the performance’s increasingly aggressive action. Using an electric chainsaw, a hatchet, and an ax, Ortiz methodically disemboweled the piano. Microphones within the instrument resonated a free noise concert of this disaggregating, strings suspended in unforeseen configurations as they unearthed the object’s death: a performance that ended when Ortiz lodged the ax in the side of the destroyed Kimball.

Read more about the related exhibition here.