The Memory of W.T. Stead
Conceived by Lundahl & Seitl and Cassie Yukawa
Lundahl & Seitl with Cassie Yukawa
Steinway & Sons piano showroom, W1 London
25 March - 6 April 2013
Commissioned by NOMAD and Montblanc
In partnership with Steinway & Sons
Produced by NOMAD with support from Arts Council England
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“I lay my ten fingers on the keyboard and imagine music. My fingers copy this mental image as I press the keys… The anatomical reality of my hands and the configuration of the piano keyboard have transformed my imaginary constructs.” György Sándor Ligeti (1923-2006)
In a darkened room, a single light source illuminates a pair of hands poised over a piano keyboard, about to play Ligeti’s Étude, Pour Irina. Nearby six people sat at grand pianos are about to embark alone on a psycho-acoustic journey, guided by unseen hands. In this strange intimate work – created for the London showroom of legendary piano-maker Steinway & Sons – the viewer becomes the protagonist, immersed in a synaesthetic narrative of memory, perception and timelessness.
Artists Lundahl & Seitl and experimental pianist Cassie Yukawa’s explorations in the structure of sound, feeling, movement and space have evolved into The Memory of W.T. Stead. The installation brings together Bach and the avant-garde Ligeti – composers who lived almost three hundred years apart – with allusions to the parapsychological musings of W.T. Stead, a journalist who foretold his own death on the Titanic*. The work manifests in the atmospheric Steinway & Sons piano showroom, workshops and rehearsal studios, in the evening, when the building is bereft of its craftsmen and sales people, and only a single pianist remains.
Critically acclaimed as a classical concert pianist, Cassie Yukawa has increasingly presented the work of contemporary composers and in 2009 collaborated on a work conceived by Lundahl & Seitl: Symphony of a Missing Room (a guided museum tour where the visitors depart on both a collective and intensely personal journey through the history of art,) presented at Salzburg Festival. Via wireless headphones, a voice took visitors on an itinerary that traversed the physical and imaginary layers of architecture in the museum and its curatorial spaces.
* W.T Stead was an English journalist, who as a young man wrote about his own dramatic death on a transatlantic liner, shipwrecked without enough lifeboats. Twenty-seven years later he boarded the Titanic and became a protagonist within his own story.