Paola Pivi born 1971 1000 2009

1000 was a live event by the artist Paola Pivi that took place at Tate Modern in 2009. For the event Pivi recruited 1,000 volunteers from across the country, including individuals and small groups associated with various charities or other institutions such as universities, local community groups and the Free Tibet movement.1

The participants were asked to assemble on the lawn behind Tate Modern, prior to what Pivi termed the ‘Action’. Here they were given a set of earplugs and briefed on what the performance would involve. The group was then led through a private entrance onto the bridge in the Turbine Hall where they looked down onto viewers who were congregating on the ground floor and up to visitors gathered on the viewing platforms on the other floors of Tate Modern. After standing quietly for a few minutes the participants were shown a brief countdown on two television screens. When the countdown reached zero the participants screamed as loudly as possible for the duration of one breath, before returning to quiet.

The silence after the group scream allowed the reverberations of the incredible noise to be heard, although one participant noted that these echoes were corrupted by the shouts of visitors who had attempted to join in, but were unaware of the precise instructions for the action.2 . Once the screams died down, the now silent participants exited the bridge through the private gate and dispersed. Despite the lengthy process of organising the recruitment and instruction of 1,000 participants, the performance itself was over in a matter of minutes, presented without the artist present and without comment on its meaning, form or intention.

While evidently complex to organise and manage the logistics, 1000 was ultimately a simple, concise action, made remarkable by the number of participants and the volume of noise created. This approach engaged with the legacies of arte povera and post-minimalism, which provided the starting point for the action and the programme of which it was part – the 2009 iteration of The Long Weekend. On this occasion, the annual four-day event responded to the newly opened permanent collection display Energy and Process. The event drew together artists engaged with arte povera and post-minimalism, including both original practitioners and contemporary artists. Pivi, whose work has explored the intersection of art and life in relation to animal and human interaction, created a new work for the occasion designed to use the vocal energy of members of the public to create art.

Acatia Finbow
October 2015