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Putzzwang (2021)

for window cleaner and live-electronics - 9 minutes
written for There is no air in Space

Putzzwang was specially written for a concert at the j3fm Kunstraum in the summer of 2021. Together with my partner in crime, Kelsey Cotton, we devised a programme that fit inside the tiny j3fm gallery in Hannover. Playing both instruments labelled as "risky" in times of corona, we locked ourselves inside the gallery and performed a one-hour programme in the display window for the audience outside. One of the pieces was Putzzwang ("cleaning compulsion").

Kelsey Cotton performing "Putzzwang"
Kelsey Cotton performing "Putzzwang"

Performer: K. Cotton,

Photos: L. Salgueiro

The composition is a short performative work in which the performer meticulously cleans the window, following very specific instructions. The occurring rhythms and sounds are recorded, modified, and fed back in, creating a massive poppy soundscape. The merry music stands in stark contrast with the overly compulsive actions of the cleaner. 

The piece originally processed a new feeling I had at the start of the pandemic, where I felt like I couldn’t get clean enough and worried if I was infected. I later noticed that making window cleaning so explicitly the topic of the piece also opens a discussion on deeper topics, such as gender stereotypes and the minimum wage, and lets the audience reflect on the payment and appreciation of cleaning personnel. Interestingly enough, the age and gender of the performer also recontextualize the thematic focus of the work and can instigate further discussions.

"Putzzwang" with audience

Performer: G. Eckert,

Photos: J. Clews

Gerald Eckert and Jana De Troyer performing "Putzzwang"
Gerald Eckert performing "Putzzwang"

Putzzwang was made for Aus Stille Wird Klang, an installation and a concert produced in June/July 2021 at the j3fm Kunstraum in Hannover, in collaboration with Kelsey Cotton and Rachel C. Walker. The piece was performed a second time in 2022 in Lauenburg, this time by Gerald Eckert.

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