I am strolling along the cobblestone streets of Barrio Lastarria, one of my favorite parts of Santiago (mostly for its vast selection of cute coffee shops that serve REAL coffee), when I see a blueish silhouette come into sight. It is chained to a large light post and painted different shades of deep blues and whites, almost as though a cloudy sky is stretching across its body. As I come closer, the blue blur takes shape; it’s a piano.
A few days pass and I am walking by the Plaza de Armas only to discover another piano. I soon realize that almost everywhere I go a piano appears.
These little gems are in fact part of the massive international art project Play Me I’m Yours by British artist Luke Jerram. Over 1,000 pianos have been installed in different cities all over the world, and arrived in Santiago this last October.
In total 20 pianos are cleverly arranged throughout the city, luring the unknowing passerby to play, listen or admire them. Each one is painted distinctly with a different color scheme and pattern, making them stick out between the grays of the city.
Walking down the sidewalk of Santiago is like being in a video game, you dodge pedestrians, avoid venders, and can even find yourself in the middle of a protest. The city conditions you to ignore the constant sounds of traffic, the many street dogs and people. The project has literally changed the tune of this city that NEVER stops.
The pianos are specifically placed in areas with lots of foot traffic, such as Paseo Huerfanos, Santiago’s pedestrian street that is always flooded by people. Or in front of metro station La Catolica, where people are racing to catch the ever claustrophobically jam packed metro.
In the midst of city chaos people pass by the pianos and begin to delicately stroke the keys, others gather closer to listen, before you know it the piano is surrounded. This is the real beauty of the project. Not the pianos themselves, but how their presence is affecting the public spaces they occupy (literally bringing culture to the streets).