‘You millions, I embrace you!’ A participatory performance by Alex Yiu
Curator : Andre Chan
About the performance
As Slavoj Zizek once described ‘Ode to Joy’ as an ‘Empty container’, this music itself is being used by people in almost any forms of celebration. Written in the summer of 1785 by German poet Friedrich Schiller, the poem ‘Ode to Joy’ celebrates the heavenly joyfulness of mankind and expresses the idea of unifying people in mysticism. While Schiller remains one of the most important poets of Germany, it is Ludwig van Beethoven’s setting on this poem with his Symphony No. 9 marks the historical monument of Western classical music.
The verse ‘You millions, I embrace you!’ from ‘Ode to Joy’, which is also the title of this work, is a participatory performance by the Hong Kong sound artist Alex Yiu. In this performance, audience is invited to participate a rehearsal, which is lead by the artist himself, to learn how to sing a section of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ in its original German texts. As music provides an aesthetic experience through a process of reinforcing and incorporating our body’s movement and memory, the artist attempts to re-enact the aesthetic experience of singing in practice, and he also questions about the purpose of music in our contemporary society.