Harmonica Curse

Dieter Roth

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Dieter Roth’s Harmonica Curse was first published in 1981 and is comprised of 74 double-sided C60 cassettes, housed in a double lock, handpainted briefcase produced in an edition of 5. Each cassette contains two tracks that feature the artist improvising on his hexagonal red concertina, an instrument favored by sailors and clowns in the 19th century. Each cassette was accompanied by a unique polaroid taken by the artist in his studio during the making of the work between February 14 and August 7, 1981.

All but two tracks are presented here.

Dieter Roth (1930-1998) was a prolific Swiss artist who worked in a diversity of forms including sculpture, painting, design, performance, books, poetry, and printmaking. Roth challenged conventions of art by merging different media and utilizing materials that decayed over time. He frequently produced artists’ books, and his groundbreaking publications remain monumental and influential to the medium. Roth produced sound works and created music throughout much of his life. He also ran a record label, Dieter Roth’s Verlag, that released his and other artists’ works in the 70s and 80s.

The collection of recordings presented here was gathered by Gianni Paravicini with the help of the Dieter Roth Estate, Björn Roth, and William Furlong (who published the original edition on Audio Arts). Harmonica Curse was digitized by Peter Kraut and featured in the exhibition “And Away With the Minutes, Dieter Roth and Music” (Kunsthaus Zug/Hamburger Bahnhof). For more information and images of many of the edition’s accompanying polaroids, please see the publication Dieter Roth: und die Musik/And Music. Harmonica Curse (Edizioni Periferia, 2014). These recordings were originally presented on http://blogs.fhnw.ch/dieterrothmusic/publikation/ .

Special thanks to Michel Roth and Meike Olbrich for their help in collecting these works and to the Dieter Roth Estate and Hauser & Wirth for allowing us to present them here.

© Dieter Roth Estate
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth