Just as Ramadan is a month of remembrance, observance, and re-evaluation, Sound Base engages past and present with a wish for the future in a visual and meditational experience. Geopiano, the fourth piano from Rashad Selim's Re-Piano project, is presented at Janet Rady Fine Art Gallery with first impressions of a major new series of digital and analogue prints.
Re-Piano is an ongoing art project that centres on the reclamation, reinvention and renewal of defunct pianos. Ramadan is a time to come together and to reach out, a time for compassion in practice, giving thanks, for understanding and to retune spirit and matter. Balance, the Arabic twazin from the root wzn also gives us meezan , the tuning of; in Somerset in December 2009 a defunct piano was burned in a performance while another, the GeoPiano, was first exhibited. There it was tuned by master tuner Reuben Katz with Rashad to span five scales from across cultures: moving left to right, well-tempered (western / international), Kali Raga (Indian), Maqqam Nairuz (Persian), Maqqam Rast (Arabic), and Pentatonic (far eastern / international). Since then the Geopiano has had many fascinating engagements and some exacting journeys (up and down stairs) that were filmed, with the Geopiano's move to this exhibition space on show. It is now time to retune and an atlas art book logs the transition. The Re-Piano project grew from Rashad's association of an upright piano, which had had its action and keys ripped out and was abandoned near to his studio in London, with the continued destruction of his native Iraq following the 2003 invasion. Geopiano has been merged with an atlas in a collaged mosaic of landscapes from around the globe ' mountain ranges above, with rivers and bodies of water descending down the piano, transitioning to deserts and a sand-pit below.
Many people - artists, friends, family and new acquaintances - participated in the making of, and engaged with Geopiano, an approach that has resonance with the inclusiveness of Ramadan and that inspires a feast. A feast of good experience and extended techniques with which to play the Geopiano: ribbon drones, various bows and a bridge, USB-powered motorized attachments, adapted hand-rotary mechanisms, and stored beneath what was the keyboard and now the pew cushions a variety of implements and fixtures to explore. Solar-powered and pedal-powered pianos are in progress to take the Re-Piano project off-grid. Geopiano was remade in a venture of re-generation where the old becomes a resource for creating the new to address the current. A transformation with similarities to fasting in that the physical experience of hunger to satiation is at the core of observing the holy month. There remains an absence of peace with desolation and the trauma of conflict and war in Iraq present after thirty years.
The digital print works originate in vintage transparencies: images from the prosperous late 1970s Iraq, digital images scanned from black and white photos by the artist's father (Nizar Salim, Iraqi Diplomat-Artist-Writer and DG of Arts 1970s), of the artists mother Gunhild, on a Tigris island and swimming in the river, the Somerset burning piano, Geopiano being played and web sourced images of the war. These were projected onto the artist's studio wall and photographed in a process that could be described with a glossary of musical composition.