Sonntag im Park
Diego Rivera’s giant mural Sunday Dream combines all social strata and all periods in a utopian nostalgic reminiscence of youth. The work was commissioned for the Lobby of the Hotel del Prado in 1947, which was partially destroyed in the 1980s earthquake and has now been renovated and to which a museum has been added bordering directly on Alameda Park. Mexico’s revolution from 1910 was “institutionalised” in Rivera’s time under the leadership of General Díaz. The viewer sees an Organillero in simple revolutionary uniform. The more than 100 years of use have inscribed themselves into the tone. The constant grinding has altered not only the intonation but also the score, sown into the barrel in the form of rods. The resulting sound is more than a mere medial shadow – it is a rhythmical and melodious variation on the former themes.
“Harmonipan – Frati & Co, Schönhauser Allee 73” is printed on the box. In 1879, Giovanni Battista Bacigalupo and Chiaro Frati had founded a firm producing pneumatic, mechanical musical instruments. Over the years the Bacigalupos grew into a hand organ dynasty in Berlin’s Schönhauser Allee. In the late 19th century, up to 3000 hurdy gurdy men flooded into the streets and back lots of the capital. Until the 1920s, when the man with his musical machine was gradually driven out by the noise of traffic and new media such as the gramophone and later radio, Berlin was the centre of begging. The hand organs never belonged to their players, who instead rented them. It was also required to have a licence to grind, which was often awarded in the Kaiser’s empire in lieu of war pensions for disabled soldiers. German entrepreneurs brought the instrument and accompanying business model to South America at the time of the Mexican Revolution. Since 1975 there are “Free Unions” of such coffee brown or grey uniformed Organilleros, who are often proud to continue a long family tradition of blasting Mexico City’s public places for a pittance. Even today, no Organillero can afford to own his old machine. In Sonntag im Park I recompose the digitally recorded impressions with their overstretched resonance in digital space as they reverberate in my memory; the echo of a revolution frozen in time.
(Jan-Peter E. R. Sonntag)
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