Anri Sala
If and Only If
2018, 9:47 min
Day 2, Screening 3
16 Dec 2018, 18:45

If and Only If, 2018
Two-channel HD video and discrete 4.0 surround sound installation, color
Duration: 9:47
Courtesy: Marian Goodman Gallery, Galerie Chantal Crousel

If and Only If (2018) based on Igor Stravinsky’s Elegy for Solo Viola, also charts the course of a journey, which too becomes an integral part of its musical composition. In this case a snail, gradually travels the full length of a viola bow, innocuously moving across it, but minutely disrupting the exquisite balance on which the maestro’s playing instinctively relies. This traversing emulates a concealed dialogue between two voices that is subtly implied at the heart of the composition. Though the work is performed as a monologue, it is in this allusion to dialogue in the form of the sound of two strings, that Sala renders Stravinsky’s Elegy as a tactile interaction between the renowned violist Gérard Caussé and a garden snail.

The snail, its location and pace imposing itself on the performance, causes the viola player to simultaneously make adjustments for and thus compose with this evolving situation. The standard duration of Elegy is thus subverted through the interaction between the musician and the snail, revised to almost double its usual time. When the snail slows down, hesitating to move forward, Caussé adapts the Elegy to encourage the snail to carry on. The music becomes an organic composition and a mutual effort, created by the performance of the violist and action of the snail, resulting in a soundtrack to the snail’s ‘epic voyage.’