EAF16 Artist Profile: Lia Lowenthal
“Rather than accepting perceptions about an object, I would rather explore how to unpack an object and follow its journey to discover the forms of circumstances.”
This impulse is evident in Lia Lowenthal’s EAF16 project, for which she has deconstructed a grand piano. Lowenthal builds upon our base understanding of a piano, but re-situates that with elements of a gothic cathedral. In doing so, she aims to investigate the social history of objects and represent those histories in an alternative way of interaction.
Her EAF16 project, Dilated Surpintel, is a continuation of Lowenthal’s study of the history of grand pianos and their relationship to Astoria as a former piano manufacturing hub (e.g., Steinway). The piano has appeared in some of the artist’s other work as a symbol of contrasts of social understanding. “The piano entered as an element of my practice accidentally during my solo show GETHENS by LL, LLC at 321 Gallery in Brooklyn in 2015.”
Lowenthal’s installation at Socrates was influenced by the formal and conceptual relationship she has developed over time with the piano, elaborating on the idea of a traditional jewelry trunk show. Since the EAF16 opening, she has continued to explore new ways to integrate pianos in her practice.
“When we think of a piano, we think of being indoors. By placing Dilated Surpintel outdoors, I hope to contrast that instinct both emotionally and architecturally.” Lowenthal considers the fact that Socrates, like many sculpture parks, is a manufactured and orchestrated experience, and that viewing the piano as a manufactured object that orchestrates emotions made using it an easy choice.
Lowenthal believes sculpture to be more than the object in its form. “I think sculpture is about the encounter. So in terms of my work, the mental, spatial or physical unpacking a viewer experiences is what I consider. Gutting the piano, Lowenthal has inserted tiled mosaics, and model architectural elements of cathedrals. By doing so, she said she is “considering the social and cultural moments vested within grand pianos and cathedrals; the piece intersects these historical lineages simultaneously, pausing the transition from one object into another.”