Anri Sala’s 5-Finger Concerto for France

In a game of Pavilion-musical chairs and with a nod toward an international art world dialogue, the foreign ministers of France and Germany agreed to swap pavilions at the 55th Venice Biennale—so don’t be surprised when you find Anri Sala’s symphonic film installation has set up shop on German ground.

With an ear for music and an uncanny ability to relate image to sound, the Albanian artist has transformed the pavilion into a multi-sensory, multi-screen film installation—titled Ravel Ravel Unravel—and here’s why: In 1930, the composer Maurice Ravel wrote a piano concerto to be played solely with the left hand. Inspired by the five-digit feat, Sala produced a pair of films with his camera affixed to the left hand of two famous concert pianists, to be screened simultaneously in the pavilion (and spliced together by a DJ in an adjacent room).

“It is a concerto written for the left hand as much as it is a concerto written for the absence of the right hand,” Sala said of the piece, which puts the left hand in command of all 88 keys and becomes as much about sound as the choreography of the movements. “We recomposed the tempos for each performance so that their differences induce an impression of continuously shifting musical echoes. As we discussed all these temporal intervals, we were also aware of the choreography that the tempo rearrangement would impose on the hands of the pianists ... It became simultaneously a score and a film script.”

Visit the French Pavilion on Artsy for more information and ongoing updates on Sala’s exhibition.

Ravel Ravel, 2013, film stills; behind-the-scenes image courtesy : Anri Sala ; Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris ; Marian Goodman Gallery, New York ; Hauser & Wirth, Zurich/Londres – Photo : © Julien Mignot / Eté 80.