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Streichquartett Op.1 (2010) is a new four-channel installation on monitors created by Tim Lee during his residency in Berlin. Tim Lee’s project is based on Glenn Gould’s String Quartet op.1, the most important of the legendary pianist’s little known compositions. The unconventional methods and artistic dissonance
in Gould’s work provide material for Lee to process in his own conceptual “performance” of the piece.

Tim Lee is a crossover-artist bringing conceptual art, appropriation, and performance together. In his work, Lee unfolds a wide-ranging network of references whose spectrum stretches from artists such as Robert Smithson and Dan Graham to the comedian Steve Martin or rock stars Iggy Pop and Neil Young. Their histories and accomplishments serve as material for Tim Lee in his performative videos, photographs, sound installations and sculptures, whereby he uses his own body in an often-humorous aesthetic game. In his vinyl album My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)/Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black), Neil Young, 1979 (Steve Martin, 1979) (2007) he fuses together moments of the artistic careers of Steve Martin and Neil Young. During a performance in 1970, Steve Martin once joked that it was impossible to play a sad song on the banjo. The non-musician Lee answered the challenge by learning to play My My Hey Hey from Neil Young’s album Rust Never Sleeps on the banjo in a melancholic way.

For the video installation Streichquartett Op. 1 (2010) Lee learned to play the string instruments by practicing for weeks on end. In a time-consuming process, he performed and recorded, note-by-note all of the four parts of Glenn Gould’s String Quartet op. 1 on video. The instruments are then presented on synchronized monitors so that the four parts are brought together in an ensemble in the exhibition space. String Quartet op. 1 is one of Gould’s few little known compositions, once described by music critic Max Nyffeler as critical “essays about the kind of music that fascinated him, and instead of words he put it down in notes.” With his version of the string quartet, Lee makes reference to different aspects of Gould’s convoluted biography and complex manner of
working, such as the relationship between new interpretations and new creations, originality and virtuosity in music, and projects them onto the field of performance and conceptual art: It was 1955, the year of his breakthrough with his world-famous interpretation of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, when Gould completed his first own composition, the seldom regarded String Quartet op. 1. With his “fragmented” version of the string quartet, Lee refers also to the early tape recordings and mixed-media techniques employed by Gould in his later musical
experiments.

Tim Lee (born in 1975 in Seoul, Korea) lives and works in Vancouver, Canada, and in Berlin. In 2009/10 he was a guest of the Berliner artist-in-residency program of the DAAD. In 2011, he will take part in the Istanbul Biennale. Tim Lee has participated in several international solo and group shows, including a solo exhibition in the Hayward Gallery (2009), at the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts in San Francisco (2008), and at
the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston (2008) and group exhibitions such as the Sydney Biennale (2008), the Yokohama Triennale (2008), at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2008), at the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (2007), and at the MoMA, New York (2005).

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