View of “Tejpal Ajji,” 2012. From left: Hindi, 2009–11; Piano, 2010.

Tejpal Ajji


View of “Tejpal Ajji,” 2012. From left: Hindi, 2009–11; Piano, 2010.

Remember Don Music, the Sesame Street character who would bang his head on the piano in frustration? As spontaneous musical actions go, there seems to be an appeal, at least among pint-size viewers, in using one’s head as a blunt instrument. In Tejpal Ajji’s video Piano, 2010, we see a grown-up version of that compulsion, except the impromptu action is replaced by a deliberately paced performance. The work begins with the camera focused on a grand piano in a dance studio. A muffled off-screen voice can be heard, and then Ajji comes into view, carried planklike by two men and a woman. Arriving at the piano, the three lift and lower the artist so that his forehead makes contact with the keys. The action is repeated seventeen times, the players shuffling back and forth along the length of the keyboard before retreating again, artist in tow, out of the frame.

With a running time of

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