It stands in the middle of the street, its shiny wooden finish glowing in the sun. You don’t expect to find it here, but you’re too curious to walk on. You take a seat on the stool and gently press one of the keys. A warm, bright tone detaches itself from the instrument and disperses in the air, stroking the pavement and the walls. More keys, more tones; they entice passers-by, who gather around you. The street is your stage; you are the artist and the piano is your instrument.
‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ is a project by the British installation artist Luke Jerram. Since 2008, Jerram has placed over 400 pianos in cities all around the world, with the simple instruction "play me, I'm yours". The pianos can be found in public places like parks, railway stations and market places, on bridges and boats, and are accessible to everyone. Local artists often take the initiative to decorate and paint the instruments, making them even more a part of their environment.
‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ is an intervention in public space that aims to make urban dwellers regard and experience their environment in new and exciting ways. The passer-by is no longer the observer; he or she participates in the program by taking a seat and pressing a key. The project stimulates the public to participate and cooperate, and to appropriate its environment. It’s about creativity and fun, and about breaking the common restrictions of public space.
During the Incubate 2011 festival, more than 101 pianos are scattered around Tilburg and surrounding villages, placed in the public space. It is the first time that ‘Play Me, I’m Yours’ takes place in the Benelux region.
Each participating city has a website where the public can upload movies, photos and stories from the interaction with the pianos. These sites serve as testimonials of the various versions of the project and connect the participating communities.
Worldwide, more than 1 million people in over twenty cities participated in ‘Play Me, I'm Yours’; Tilburg and its region are now added to this list. After Incubate, the pianos will be donated to local schools and charity groups.