Thursday, 20 September 2012

Two bulls, three pianos

On display for just one month at Te Papa is Michael Parekowhai's amazing installation titled On first looking into Chapman's Homer.

It's hard to describe in a way that does it justice, but it is breath-taking. Here's an attempt: it's a genuine Steinway grand piano, astonishingly red and intricately carved all over including the lid, flanked by two bronze pianos on top of which  are two incredibly life-like and life-size bulls, one standing and pawing the ground, one sitting.

Just after I arrived, two men wandered into the gallery. I don't think they were expecting to see it, because they looked surprised, then confused, then even more surprised and more confused. One of themn sidled over to the gallery attendant and asked, "What does this piece of art mean?" She replied with great aplomb, 'What does any piece of art mean?"

I'd read Mark Amery's review in the Dominion Post which really helped me relate to this work, especailly the references to the river and the landforms as viewed from the the water.

People can book a time to come and play the grand piano. When I was there, a man arrived, sat down and started to play Tom Lehrer's song "The elements", listing all the elements of the periodic table (at least as known in 1959, up to no 102), which made it seem even more surreal.

He also played another Tom Lehrer tune: 'Poisoning pigeons in the park'!

But there are also concerts on every day at 12.30 and it's on display until the 23rd - only a few more days now!


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