Symphony of a Missing Room
International Summer Festival Hamburg 2012 & Hamburger Kunsthalle 11–19 August 2012
In Lundahl & Seitl's practice the visitor’s perception is the medium of the work, its potential content as well as the means to receive it. Here the essence of ’the artwork’ is intangible, pending its own creation inside the immaterial realms of conscious experience and a continuous passage of time.
At Hamburger Kunsthalle, Symphony of a Missing Room takes its conceptual starting point in Alice in Wonderland (a touring exhibition now at Hamburger Kunsthalle based on Lewis Carroll's stories). Appropriating the museum's guided tour, the artwork takes the visitors on both a collective and extremely personal journey. The painting Awaken by John Everett Millais (pictured above), showing a little girl in the state between sleep and awakening, is the starting point for the itinerary through the museum. The walk then traverses layers of physical and imaginary architecture of the museum, always in proximity to the concepts and visions of the existing curatorial space; at the same time as it evaporates the art objects within - they become a memory, leaving no shadow.
The tour continues via the exhibition Lost Spaces. Here the group of six visitors find themselves standing in the centre of an installation by Jan Köchermann. Dead End includes a hub of interrupted corridors and passages that offer no way to go further -- beyond Newtonian physics -- where things are made into matter when you bump your head into a wall. But where there is no door one has to invent new ways of entering. Through wireless headphones with three-dimensional sound, worn by each visitor, they are asked to close their eyes… or otherwise they will not see anything.
The sound of a door opening, a voice whispering "come," and a hand gently leading the visitor through the impassable 'dead end' installation into a vast gallery space… where nothing has been displayed before.
Immersed in art history, which is usually viewed from a distance, the visitor can now traverse the accumulated layers of acoustic spaces from the collection of museums previously inhabited by the work. While Symphony is concerned by physical displays of history described and embodied by museums, it is also a learning machine, that absorbs and reconstitutes its own past, reciting the lessons of that past each time it is physically refashioned, and each time begins again.
Symphony of a Missing Room is commissioned for a series of museums in Europe since 2009; it is an artwork in a constant state of becoming.
"Symphony explores the idea of the museum as an observer and keeper of history. But history is proposed here as a kind of 'backwards prophesying': as one must call into the imagination an event that someone tells you will happen, one must similarly imagine an event you are told once did happen. The art museum thus becomes a repository of disjunct visuals that project, prophesy and document both the past and the future." Lundahl & Seitl
"After hosting the works of so many artists, perhaps the Museum has understood, that it has has the power to imitate them." Fabio Mauri
[Artists] Christer Lundahl, Martina Seitl
[Design] Jula Reindell
[Collaborators] Rachel Alexander, Lisette Drangert and Colin McLean
[Local guides] Daniela Backhaus, Frauke Frech, Christine Grosche and Martin Heise
Symphony of a Missing Room is produced by Weld, Stockholm. The Hamburg version is co-produced by International Summer Festival Hamburg in collaboration with Hamburger Kunsthalle.
With special support from: British Council