With an art installation, Annie Lennox ventures away from music

With an art installation, Annie Lennox ventures away from music

Annie Lennox is talking about death. It is not something morbid or vain because it is not the concern of a celebrity regarding his legacy. Instead, the former Eurythmics vocalist is very realistic about being a woman of a certain age – 64 years old – and thus someone who has begun to look to her past rather than her future.

“What is the only thing we have guaranteed?” He asks. “That we are going to die.” Since the dissolution of Eurythmics, the highly successful pop music duo he formed in the ’90s with Dave Stewart, Lennox’s concerns have become more earthy and existential. In the decades since, she has released only sporadic albums and took a hiatus to raise her two daughters.

Inspired by her experiences with Nelson Mandela’s 46664 campaign, she stated, became an AIDS activist, focusing specifically on the situation of women and girls in Africa. He left fame behind for a chance to live and, perhaps, make a difference in the world.

Annie Lennox hopes that her new installation will lead to reflection on “our common humanity” (Lauren Lancaster for The New York Times).

“In my day, I always thought that fame was the result of something important that you have done musically or artistically. It’s just a symptom, ”he said. “I have submerged and I have emerged. And it is the emergence that has kept me human. ”

His humanity is the subject of his most recent project, which reveals a more personal side of the singer-songwriter that her fans have not had the opportunity to see, in a different medium: an art installation.

Last month, Lennox unveiled at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) in North Adams, Massachusetts, a mound of earth about 2.50 meters high by 20 meters long that contains almost 250 objects that Lennox has acquired throughout his life: the makeup bag she used during her tours, her mother’s sewing machine, a mask that a boyfriend gave her, figures alluding to the Mexican holiday of the Day of the Dead, dozens of pairs of her daughters’ shoes, and more.

The items are arranged in such a way as to suggest associations and stories, and are embedded in the glitter-stained pile of dirt that is bounded by velvet ropes.

At the top of the mound is a piano. It is partially illuminated by a reflector. “The piano has been so, so significant throughout my life. Since I was 3 years old and they gave me a toy piano ”, he relates.

The exhibition, titled “Now I Let You Go …” (Now I let you go) is like a purification, both physical and emotional.

“I was confused about what to show, what was relevant and what was not. But it is beautiful to be able to do this, because in the West we do not have such a ritual. We do not know what to do with what is left behind, “he said.

On a recent visit, the mood in the gallery was quiet, with low lighting. Slow, quiet melodies played on the piano — songs improvised by Lennox, who calls them “butterfly music” for their calming effect. The earthen mountain evokes ancient burial mounds and mass graves, as well as an archaeological excavation site. Some of his music videos are projected on the background wall, without volume and in reverse so that his expressive face and penetrating eyes often dominate the entire space.

Lennox said he hopes the facility, on view until next spring, inspire reflection on “our common humanity”.

Leaving behind the characters he spent years creating for music videos and photo shoots, he has deconstructed himself for a captivating self-portrait.

“One aspect of me would have wanted to be a true mainstream visual artist,” she said, explaining that she had briefly studied art in school. But the singer-songwriter, who now divides her time between London and Los Angeles, has no intention of embarking on a late new trajectory, and credits much of the installation’s success to Joseph Thompson, director of the MASS MoCA, who took her proposal from the MASS MoCA seriously. mound, and the technical and curatorial staff who made it a reality.

“It’s my dream and they helped me make it come true.”

Lennox says she has become more in tune with the dreamlike quality of life, but as a songwriter she has always cleverly captured it – she’s there in 1982’s “Sweet Dreams,” in 2007’s ballad “Dark Road,” and many other songs. . Now he has given that sensitivity a physical form that is ultimately more ephemeral than his music.

“If you had met me in the 80s, I was in my youth, experimenting and trying to figure everything out. I have begun to realize more and more that life is nothing but a dream and we carry it in our memory “.

© 2019 The New York Times


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With an art installation, Annie Lennox ventures away from music