Diabelli Machines 1: Unexpected Variations

The concept of ‘variation’ traditionally includes the notion of a central ‘identity’ (the theme) orbited by a number of satellites (the ‘variations’). In various degrees of subtlety, the variations reveal certain differences vis-à-vis the theme, as well as obvious repetitions of certain aspects of its structure. ‘Difference’ is understood here as a difference between two entities, and ‘repetition’ as a reiteration of a certain situation or a return to it. This vision does not deal with ‘difference’ and ‘repetition’ as such, but mainly situates it in relation to its originary position of reference – that of ‘identity’. “Diabelli Machines 1: Unexpected Variations” explores another understanding of ‘variation’, one where ‘difference’ is not mediated by an ‘identity’ but through difference itself. To reinforce this aspect, techniques of elimination, suppression, substitution and replacement are extensively brought into play. Starting and finishing with Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations op. 120, this concert proposes rhizomatic eruptions of forces and energies, such as Henrik Frisk’s Repetition Repeats All Other Repetitions, Edward Jessen’s Chamber 119, Anton Webern’s cello pieces op.11 and Morton Feldman’s King of Denmark. More than addressing the relations between contingency and structure, organization and change, the ‘Unexpected Variations’ project proposes a collection of heterogeneous elements that are diverse, but bundled together through specific relations and expressing a common feature: a newly conceived idea of ‘variation’, where the difference itself becomes the constitutive dimension. Inspired by the idea that different elements can be connected (articulated) or disconnected in order to create new, unexpected assemblages, this endeavour stresses the urge for articulations that must be made, sustained, transformed and unmade in particular concrete practices. More than predictable and expected entities, it is the transformational power of the events that is proposed and stimulated in this concert – its character and its latent critics of a re-presentational understanding of art points to an aesthetic venture that affirms experimentation over interpretation.