deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts
31 October 2014 – 26 April 2015
Thoreau’s Desk (requires some assembly) is a music composition for percussion trio. Its instrumentation includes tools and materials for building an abstraction of Henry David Thoreau's writing desk. When construction is complete the music stops. And on each occasion the piece is performed a new object is built.
The work is inspired by the chapter in Walden devoted to “Sounds," wherein Thoreau sets his household furnishings “out on the grass,” and “They seemed . . . as if unwilling to be brought back in.” Other sources include Water Walk, which composer John Cage performed in 1960 before a live audience for the popular American television show, “I’ve Got a Secret.” Yet another precedent includes the Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld’s 1934 writing desk built from a shipping crates. However, the object produced by the musicians performing Thoreau’s Desk (requires some assembly) appears no closer to such models than Picasso’s 1915 Violin resembles the musical instrument inspiring it.