The piano was just incredible. It sat there in the middle of the art exhibition, looking oddly out of place. Plain and black, elegant but not fancy, by no means a Liberace piano, at first glance it lent an unmistakably commercialist air to the otherwise refreshingly diverse and original atmosphere of the gallery.
The moment Giancarlo Bernini sat down and began playing the piano, however, one could not help but begin to understand its role, its place in the organic structure of the event. As soon as the first ghostly tendrils of the music began to wash over the audience, they felt themselves begin to understand everything more clearly, the way a vampire understands the night. Everything within the reach of the senses seemed to take on previously-unimaginable dimensions, the brushstrokes in the paintings became visible without distracting from, in fact even enhancing, the beauty of the artworks. The statues seemed almost to move and breathe, the photographs seemed like windows into another three-dimensional world, albeit one tantalizingly just out of reach.
I found myself staring long and hard at a photograph, two feet high and three feet wide, hanging on the wall between, on its left, a copper statue of two rampant lions, and on its right an antique gramophone titled Homage to Marcel Duchamp. The picture was plainly inspired by that iconic image of the six naked women sitting on the edge of a pool with the Pink Floyd album covers painted on their backs. Only instead of six, there were three, and two of them were young children, and the younger of them was a boy, and the woman in the middle appeared to be their young mother, and she had her arms around them. The entire world in the picture was bathed in a golden light from the windows on the opposite side of the pool, and with the addition of Bernini’s music, one felt as if one was staring into the afterlife itself.
Some people began to cry as soon as they looked at that picture, others smiled with tears standing in their eyes, at the mixture of beauty made perfect by the slight imperfection, the slight humor that arose from the sight of three bare butts in a row, the sweetness of knowing that it was okay because they were a family. After what seemed an eternity I tore myself away and moved on with tears streaming down my face.
The music from the incredible piano haunted me all the way around the gallery, from the vase painted with what appeared to be roses entwined with ancient Greek hoplite images, to the avant-garde sculpture consisting of a bunch of painted steel propelled in kaleidoscopic patterns of no discernable shape whose title indicated it was in some way inspired by the legend of Actaeon and Diana, to the great video project by the famed auteur Reuben Prosser, projected on the far west wall of the event.
The video consisted of underwater footage of sperm whales, overlaid with the voice of Prosser himself reading Prufrock, among other things, mingled with the natural sounds of the whales. It was hard to say whether he was suggesting that this was what the whales were saying to each other, but somehow the mystery made the effect even more, well, effective. The real clincher, though, was the accompaniment of Bernini’s music, ethereal and visceral at the same time, a music that combined sorrow and joy and detachment in every note. As the viewer watched the whales, and as the listener listened to Prosser’s chocolate voice wondering whether it would have been worth it after all, that same viewer and listener could not help feeling that not only was the world not going to be okay, but indeed it should not be, that the inevitability of oblivion was indeed the negative element that made everything worthy of appreciation, that the probably rapidly approaching extinction of the planet was what made it worth it after all, that soon enough this veil of tears would lift, and that next time, some more beautiful thing would be there instead.Recommend0 Simily SnapsPublished in