venetia kapernekas gallery

String Quintet for 2 cellos, 2 violas, and a corpse
(March 30, 2008)

Joanna Malinowska

· CV & Bibliography
· Selected Works

For this one-time performance piece, Joanna Malinowska commissioned the young Japanese composer Masami Tomihisa to create an original music score according to a set of instructions provided in an officially signed contract. These instructions included musical terms, such as: number of movements, duration of the piece, tempo, etc; but most importantly, the physical idea of a motionless, dead-looking body to be considered a silent, impossible to dismiss, instrument within the quintet.

This idea of having a corpse as a part of a music composition was inspired by the numerous corpses in Jean Luc Godard’s films presented unemotionally as a sort of prop or element of a still life, and also by John Cage’s 4:33—the corpse as a silent instrument within the quintet, as the same effort and skill will be required from the performer to play a perfect corpse as from the others to play a cello or viola.

Polish-born Joanna Malinowska, currently living in New York City, works mostly with video and performance art. Through her work, the artist has been exploring an interest in music and various aspects of music performance, concerning both iconic figures as Glenn Gould, John Cage, Olivier Messiaen, and her countryman Piotr Anderszewski, and one-of-a-kind folk musicians, such as the Elvis Presley impersonator, Jimmy Ekho on the North East coast of Canada.

Malinowska, after receiving her MFA from Yale University in 2001, has shown her work in solo exhibitions including, “Umanaqtuaq” at the Venetia Kapernekas Gallery, New York (2007), “20 Gaz…” at Dobra Witryna in Warsaw, Poland (2007), and “In Search of The Miraculous Continued…” at Canada, New York (2006). She has participated in the 1st Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2005) and the International Biennale of Contemporary Art, Prague, Czech Republic (2005), and exhibited internationally at such venues as: the Kunstmuseum, Bern, Switzerland (2004); The Contemporary Art Center, Warsaw, Poland (2006, 2004); the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2005); New York City and Art In General, New York City (2004, 2006); and the Boston Center for the Contemporary Arts (2008).

Japan-born Masami Tomihisa has been playing piano since the age of 6. She studied music composition and philosophy at Sothia University in Tokyo, Japan and Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. She lives and works in New York. Tomihisa has been predominantly composing scores for films ranging from animation  (John Dilworth’s Life in Transition), to documentaries  (Konstantin Bojnov’s Invisible) and to indie features (Hakan Sahin’s Snow).

The current project is not the first time Tomihisa has collaborated with visual artists. In the past, she worked with Eriko Sugimoto creating a performance/installation project A Picture Book. She impersonated pianist Margaret Leng Tan playing John Cage’s 4:33 on New York subway crossing Manhattan bridge in Malinowska’s video titled, Preaching the Avant-Garde to a Commuter. She has recently performed a series of her own toy piano compositions at the independent multi-media venue Monkey Town in Brooklyn.

This event was produced by Joanna Malinowska and the Venetia Kapernekas Gallery. For more information on this event or the work of the artist, please contact Ashley Klein at


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