Abraham Brody’s work The Violinist is Present was performed at Fondation Beyeler as part of the one day exhibition The Artist is an Explorer, curated by Marina Abramovic. In this video, we have a look at the performance and speak with the artist, who talks about the idea and the inspiration behind the piece and his work in general.
Abraham Brody: The Violinist is Present. The Artist is an Explorer, curated by Marina Abramovic, at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen (Basel, Switzerland). Interview with Abraham Brody, September 19/20, 2014.
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This performance is an exploration of the powerful energy between performer and public, the main goal being to give the public an active role in the performance. During the six hours, Abraham Brody invites members of the public to sit in front of him, one at a time, and he will create musical improvisations based on what he sees in their eyes. When sitting in front of the violinist, the public is encouraged to keep eye contact with him at all times. This performance brings both the public and performer fully into the present moment, allowing the public to become aware of their current inner emotions. The creation of this work goes two ways, The violinist improvising in response to what he sees in the public’s eyes, the public affected and changed by the music, creating an ever evolving process and a spontaneous musical piece unique to each moment.
The energy transmitted from the public sustains the violinist in his musical creations. The longer the public remains in the space, and the more focused attention they bring to the present moment, the more they actively control the dialogue between the violinist and themselves. Throughout the performance, the violinist will perform various rituals with water basins, stretching and meditation, which represent the sustenance of his physical body. The public is politely requested to remain silent during the performance and not to touch the violinist or his violin.
London-based Abraham Brody (1992, United States) is a performer who breaks the boundaries between classical, folk and contemporary music. He brings the violin into the genre of performance art as a means to deepen contact between performer and public.
He has performed internationally in venues including the Royal Festival Hall and Barbican Centre in London, the Gewandhaus Leipzig, Smetana Hall in Prague and Boston Symphony Hall.
He has premiered works by Lithuanian Rūta Vitkauskaitė at the Kristupo Festival in Vilnius, and performed as lead violinist and dancer with Sasha Siem in the London Royal Opera House premiere of her song cycle Most of the Boys.
He unites cultures and audiences through music, collaborating regularly with folk musicians from the Baltics and other regions.
Upcoming projects include collaboration with Tuvan singer Sainkho Namtchylak, and a performance based on ancient Baltic pagan rituals and music.