For their first durational museum presentation, the avant-garde musical ensemble Standing on the Corner (American, est. 2016), led by Gio Escobar, will create a sonic, multimedia installation that brings together spiritual objects, modified instruments, and moving images. The centerpiece of the exhibition is a large-scale installation consisting of seven pianos distinctly presented and prepared, with symbolic objects inserted into their strings to create apparitional interventions. Forging connections between New York City, Puerto Rico, and Africa—reflecting Escobar’s own ancestral ties—the project imagines how spiritual and natural forces intersect with and bewitch our objects and environment.
The installation makes visible the inner workings of the pianos, as well as the artists’ intercession into the strings, through cameras installed inside of the instruments, with footage projected in real time. This work bridges Standing on the Corner’s interest in the urban modifications of ancient devotional practices of the Caribbean and Africa and proposes the destruction of Western musical traditions. The installation will be activated during concerts that harness the altered acoustics of each piano to summon the mysterious powers that possess them.
Image: Standing on the Corner, Seven Prepared Pianos for the Seven African Powers, 2023 / courtesy of MoMA PS1