Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: If you missed Idris Khan, here's a little nugget for you

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2010 at 5:15 PM

One of the problems of bringing an artist to a show at its closing (versus its opening), is just that: it's over. Any buzz that arises from the event has nowhere to go.

And after being at Colorado College Saturday night, I wanted to share the buzz following "Last 3 Piano Sonatas ... After Franz Schubert," Idris Khan's talk and film with live performance by pianists Susan Grace and John Novacek, previewed by Sarah White in the June 24 issue of the Independent here.

Idris Khan with a larger-than-life piano.
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Idris Khan with a larger-than-life piano.

The talk, in the Cornerstone Arts Center's screening room, lasted about 40 minutes, with a slide show by Khan that delved into his personal history, as well as his transition from photographer to filmmaker to sculptor, and his emphasis in each of these areas on daily practices and rituals.

"When we showed [the Schubert film] in New York, people were sitting through it three or four times because they didn't know when it was ending or when it was beginning," Khan said. "I kind of liked that."

After his talk, the I.D.E.A. Space hosted the film and live concert. Two pianos were set up on either side of three screens, and for the next 20 minutes or so, as Kahn's film screened silently, Grace and Novacek played Schubert's sonatas — together, but not. Each pianist played to his or her own beat, often coming off (intentionally) discordant. They did live what players within Kahn's film do, pressing listeners within different layers of notes, at times comfortably; at other times, poking you out of complacency.

Susan Grace gives Schubert's sonatas her all, against a backdrop of Khan's work.
  • Kirsten Akens
  • Susan Grace gives Schubert's sonatas her all, against a backdrop of Khan's work.

Since the show closed that evening and I can't send you all to CC, I went digging — and found this video of Khan giving a 45-minute talk very similar to the one he gave on Saturday. This speech took place at the Guggenheim, in New York City, back in April. Within it, there's a clip of the Schubert film, sans Grace and Novacek, of course, but it will give you a glimpse into what attendees were able to partake in.

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