Pierrot Laborieux [work & the work]

Celeste Oram’s audio-visual installation recomposes Schönberg’s iconic ‘Pierrot Lunaire’ by counterpointing it with a Pierrot ensemble’s day-to-day musical labour rendered audible.

+44 (0)20 7942 2000
  • Saturday, 15 – Sunday, 23 September 2018

  • British Galleries, Room 56, The Djanogly Gallery

  • Free event

Pierrot Laborieux [work & the work] photo

In 1912, Viennese composer Arnold Schoenberg wrote Pierrot Lunaire. It came to be regarded as such an iconic work of the 20th century that its instrumentation (flute, clarinet, piano, violin, cello, & soprano) has become a standard chamber ensemble - known as a Pierrot ensemble - for which countless works have since been composed. In other words, Pierrot Lunaire has come to influence labour structures. This seems apt, considering Pierrot Lunaire first came into the world via extraordinary quantities of labour: this forty-minute work demanded forty rehearsals before its premiere.

On the occasion of Karl Marx’s 200th birthday, this installation re-composes the work Pierrot Lunaire with audio recordings of the work of a Pierrot ensemble — rehearsals, private studio practice, administrative tasks, exercise necessary to maintain their health — such that Schoenberg’s composition is erased as the sounds of labour crescendo.

The soprano abstained from supplying audio recordings, citing privacy concerns.

Commissioned by the City of Trier and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group as part of the Wilde Lieder – Marx.Music project. Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation with financial assistance from Sound Investors as part of the BCMG's Sound Investment Scheme.

Part of London Design Festival at the V&A