840 Variations on Vexations #300: Composite portrait combining all available images of Erik Satie from Google Image Search. 2019.
840 Variations on Vexations
2016 - present
The composer Erik Satie (1866-1925) may be considered an odd muse for our contemporary era. One of his lesser known, but influential compositions, Vexations, is a short piano work preceded with an instructional inscription: “Vexations should be played 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest of silence, by serious immobilities.” This “direction” lead to the interpretation that Vexations should be played 840 times in order to complete the performance of the piece as Satie intended. It is not known whether Satie’s instruction was meant to be taken literally, but has nonetheless come to characterize performances of the piece, leading to marathon public interpretations by challenge-hungry and endurance seeking pianists. Looking to Vexations and its rule of 840 repetitions, I am developing a new body of work that directly engages with Satie’s score and its metaphoric subtext of arduous and stoic labor.
“840 Variations on Vexations” is my annotated list of 840 potential projects ranging from objects, events, happenings, performances, sounds, new music and recordings. Through these projects I present conceptual and poetic responses to duration, endurance, labor, and artistic interpretation. The aim of this (eventual) publication is to provide possibilities and inspirations for artists and musicians considering their roles in labor and the re-inscription of the creative process.
Here you will find a selection of works from the list (2016 – present). Those that have been executed publicly will be found in the links on the left. Others that are either in progress, or have been completed privately will be found below this text.
If you are interested in more information regarding this project, or if you would like to support “840 VOV” through your participation, collaboration with your space or assisting with building or contributing materials specific to each project, please feel free to reach out.