Performance in Eckhart Park pool: Two cellists wash 30 cellos


Katinka Kleijn in yellow and Lia Kohl in red caps

People lined one side and part of both ends of the 75 foot pool in the Eckhart Park Natatorium, 1330 W. Chicago Ave. Audience members seemed filled with curiosity and expectations for “Water on the Bridge."

How delicious to think that a Chicago Symphony cellist Katinka Kleijn and cellist Lia Kohl along with electronics and sound man Daniel Dehaan would be performing some type of musical experience in and around a swimming pool. 

The cellists took the "stage" poolside with swimming caps perched on their heads. Ceremoniously they put on largish rubber gloves, matching the color of their caps. One was yellow, the other red. They pulled down the caps. 

They wet their gloves in the pool then put water on their gloves, on themselves and each other.


Klein washes a cello

Walking to the other side of the pool, they each went to one cello then another and another. There were 30. Each instrument received some attention with water. 

Using a bow, each performer occasionally pulled it across or bounced it on the strings. Sometimes the gloves spread water on an instrument, making a squeaking sound as they "washed" it. 


Kohl tosses cello into pool as Klein watches


Performers jump in to join the cellos in the pool

The cello cleansing seemed to go on forever, then…one performer threw a cello in the pool. The audience engaged with gasps, laughs and claps. 

Both cellists jumped in too, they "played" with some instruments that preceded them into the pool.

After getting out of the pool, slowly after more "investigation and testing" of the other instruments, the other cellos were thrown into the pool. 

Background electronic sounds were occasionally heard. 

Both cellists then jumped back in with their floating instruments. They swam with them, tussled with them, gathered them together and splashed around with them.

Eventually the cellists left them in the pool and they exited the "stage." 

Audience members, for the most part, were disappointed. The same actions went on too long. It was slow and boring. With no musical sounds, many were disappointed. 

The performance did not deliver on the promotional material's promises.. "the pair will play, float and move around the cellos accompanied by live electronics and cello loops. Utilizing the utilitarian nature of the space, the piece draws on movement vocabulary from swimming instruction and water sports, the sounds of the pool in action, and the cavernous sonic experience of the historic building. 


"In all its forms, 'Water on the Bridge' explores the baggage that we all carry with us: emotional, spiritual, physical, and the ways we nurture it, struggle with it, and let it go." 

As performance and video artist Kapra Fleming states, "They may be excellent cellists, but performance art is a balance of mixing the unexpected into the mundane with storytelling that even when obtuse, makes one wonder and ponder the world we live in. 


"Thirty cellos with these two cellists in a CPD (Chicago Park District) pool did not sate the expectations that drew this standing room crowd out on Sat., Mar. 16. 

"The audience's imagination was fuller than the sound produced or the images drawn." 

"We have no proof that they are cellists," says Miguel Lopez Lemus, Theater Director, Latino Experimental Theatre Company. "Playing with cellos is not proof they can play a cello."


Cello roundup



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