10,000 Things, 2015
7 minutes, with sound
After filming a portrait of the stove in Robert Rauschenberg’s home and studio, I approached the director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio about filming a portrait of their space before they closed down and moved out of Westbeth, where Merce had lived and worked since 1971. Already the studio was rapidly dismantling and packing up when I showed up to film the space. A beautiful old piano sat in the corner of the stage area. I asked the studio manager about the instrument. “That was John’s,” he said, referring to Cunningham’s partner, John Cage. “We use it for rehearsals.”
To bring the instrument into my portrait of the Cunningham Studio I asked a performer if I could film him preparing the piano for Cage’s piece, 10,000 Things. I captured his hands as he adjusts the piano strings with objects according to Cage’s prepared piano notes, filling the studio with preparation sounds as I worked on capturing final shots of the empty space and views outside the Westbeth windows.