Idris Khan (B. 1978)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more
Idris Khan (B. 1978)

Struggling to Hear... After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas

Idris Khan (B. 1978)
Struggling to Hear... After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas
signed, numbered and dated '6/6 I Khan 2005' (on the reverse)
lamda digital C-print mounted on aluminium
96 ½ x 70 ½in. (245.2 x 179.3cm.)
Executed in 2005, this work is number six from an edition of six
Victoria Miro, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
London, Victoria Miro, Idris Khan, 2006 (another from the edition exhibited).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. All sold and unsold lots marked with a filled square in the catalogue that are not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the day of the sale, and all sold and unsold lots not cleared from Christie’s by 5:00 pm on the fifth Friday following the sale, will be removed to the warehouse of ‘Cadogan Tate’. Please note that there will be no charge to purchasers who collect their lots within two weeks of this sale.

Lot Essay

With its blurred accumulation of black lines, Struggling to Hear… After Ludwig van Beethoven Sonatas, 2005,
witnesses Idris Khan’s interest in the role of appropriation and repetition in contemporary art practices. Obliterated by a dynamic mass of tangled notes, the regular linear pattern of a stave becomes abstracted. This complex and evocative image is the result of digitally layering musical scores by Ludwig van Beethoven. In this way, Beethoven’s oeuvre is condensed into one singular artwork whose encyclopedic aim is nullified by the inevitable indecipherability of the individual musical compositions. Struggling to Hear… After Ludwig van Beethoven becomes then a visual comparative to John Cage’s 4’ 33” and the Futurists’ noise machine which replicated the cacophonic chaos of modernity.

Paying homage to one of the greatest composers of all time, Khan questions to what extent Beethoven’s powerful music can survive oblivion with the passing of time. With its significant title – Struggling to Hear – Khan invites debate over fame and immortality. Presenting an optically complex photograph in which an overwhelming cacophony of notes overlay, intertwine and coalesce, Khan investigates the future of Beethoven’s music, asking what will pass to future generations, a postmodern collision of references or just silence?

In Struggling to Hear… After Ludwig van Beethoven, with its intricate abstract tangle of musical notes, Khan poignantly addresses Beethoven’s deteriorating hearing in his old age and the great frustration this must have caused. The translation of music onto score paper represents a form of abstraction to Khan. His mother trained as a pianist, and the artist was always attracted by the nature of music as an accumulation of different sounds, an endless variation on a theme. Khan’s art practice, informed by the typologies of Karl Blossfeldt and Bernd and Hilla Becher, explores the relationship between notions of accumulation and erasure, of
authorship and replication. Struggling to Hear… After Ludwig van Beethoven, a piece poignantly obfuscating the border between creation and erasure, is an elegant embodiment of the aesthetic and conceptual consequences of artistic

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