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Grahame Weinbren «Sonata»
Grahame Weinbren, «Sonata», 1991 – 1993
© Grahame Weinbren

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Archive / Collection: ZKM, Karlsruhe

 Grahame Weinbren

A viewer's first impression of Sonata is generally by way of its two tower-mounted monitors. After a while, however, one grows aware that the images portrayed on these screens are actually controlled by the person seated at the installation's third monitor, which is the interactive display. There, pointing to areas on the screen brings up images - some clearly referring to the tale-in-hand, some seeming to lead on to other stories. In all, there are three major narrative strands to the work. Although the piece takes its name from Tolstoy's novella 'The Kreutzer Sonata' (the story of a man, Lev Pozdnyshev, who during the course of train ride through a snowy landscape, recounts the tale of the murder of his wife, for which he was exonerated in a court of law), an equal amount of time is spent on a dramatisation of elements from the tale of Judith (the Biblical heroine who saved her people from the threatening army of Nebuchadnezzar by beheading his general, Holofernes, in his own bed). Alongside these, the viewer may also find a series of vivid scenes recalling primal events in the life of The Wolf Man, Freud's most famous case history, commonly known under his patient's pseudonym.

The three stories all have common ground around sex, gender, violence and power; two featuring men who have terrible problems with women, or revolving around what the artist provocatively calls 'crimes of passion'. Both the Judith and Tolstoy tales retain their original chronologies, while the cluster of stories, texts and images around the Wolf Man are presented disjunctively, reverberating throughout the work.