The Splits (Rehearsal)

The Splits begins with the bisecting of various string instruments into two halves, cutting them along their length, creating two separate instruments. The two halves must then be played together to complete a tune and are, thus, for duets (or quartets, octets or dectets) only—pieces which she is creating in collaboration with musicians and composers. The act of splitting at once destroys the integrity of the instrument as an object, and disrupts the conventional process of aesthetic creation that the instrument traditionally permits. Splitting is not merely an act of destruction, however. Instead, it opens graceful passages for imagined evolution: the split instrument becomes a newly creative instrument, permitting the creation not only of new music, but new communities (visual artist, the composer, the musicians, and the audience). Ms. Benson has “split” two violins, a viola, cello and double bass: all, cheap, mass-produced string instruments made in China.