Johnen Galerie, Berlin
artist / participant
Lee‘s video installation Goldberg-Variations, Aria BWV 988, Johann Sebastian Bach, 1741 (Glenn Gould, 1981) shows one keyboard each on two screens that have been mounted next to each other on the wall. On each of these keyboards, one of the artist’s hands plays - in unison with the other - Bach’s piano piece mentioned in this work’s title. Lee always acts himself in his music orientated videos – even though he is not a musician. His amateurism is in fact part of his conceptual projects. For this work, Lee took piano lessons and let himself be instructed during the filming with respect to playing and positioning of the hand. The left and the right hand were filmed separately and figure by figure. Later, they were cut together and synchronised. The cuts are partly hard and thus remain visible. Overall, the playing sounds a bit raw but quite masterly. Lee’s reconstruction of this piece refers to Glenn Gould’s famous Bach interpretations. However, it does not refer to his first studio recording of the “Variations” of 1955 (the beginning of the pianist’s career), but to the legendary one that was made shortly before his death in 1981. Gould, who had not been giving public concerts since 1964 and who had consequently concentrated on electronic media in order to maximise his work’s quality, had shown a great interest in the recording process. He researched the effects on the musical argument of editing uncountable versions into one recording. Lee’s imitation of this technique emphasises the question of authorship and authenticity – a question that was already addressed by Gould’s work of major importance which was itself already the highly manipulated second version of his interpretation of Bach’s piece of music.
Lee‘s photo diptych My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) / Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Neil Young, 1979 shows Lee twice – once holding an acoustic and once holding an electric guitar – in Neil Young’s pose during the recording of his live album Rust Never Sleeps. The photos are taken from above and show the plan views especially of the long shadows that Lee cast on the ground. As an allusion to Young’s creative restlessness and self-reflection – which manifests itself in his characteristic double variations of the same song – the works are installed to mirror each other, like the two sides of a record.
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