Pneuma, performed by Jan Arlt & Andreas O. Hirsch

On 3 September 2015 at Port de Vinaigre, the artists performed Erik Satie’s Vexations, with the help of the construction pictured.

Pneuma comes from Greek, roughly meaning ‘breath‘, ‘air‘ or ‘spirit‘. The construction, set up specifically for this performance, consists of a rubber boat whose air chambers are connected by tubing with two melodicas, which are then driven by the escaping air. By playing the keys the performers thus bring about their own sinking.

Erik Satie’s Vexations (French for ‘humiliations’) comes to performers with the composer’s directive to prepare in utmost silence and complete motionlessness, in order to repeat the relatively short motif 840 times. Unpublished in Satie’s lifetime, the piece was first performed in its entirety in 1963 upon the initiative of John Cage.

With many thanks to Gerald Schauder (camera), Tamara Lorenz (camera), Volker Hennes (sound recording), Michael Schaab (photos), as well as Patricia Koellges, Tilman Peschel, Ralf Schreiber and Veit Landwehr for their support on location.

Special thanks to KSK-Team Köln / Daniel Ehrbrecht & Katharina Schotte for their support on the water.

Made possible through friendly funding by Förderprogramm Sparkasse KölnBonn / SK Stiftung Kultur.

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