In the project Lethe the research team of Anna
Lindal, Andreas Hiroui Larsson, and Johan Jutterström investigates
forgetfulness as an artistic method for a musical process, and the project
takes its metaphorical point of departure at the Greek mythological river Lethe.
Lindal (violin), Larsson (drums), and Jutterström (saxophone) constitute an
ensemble, which performs practice-based research on forgetfulness as an
artistic method and guiding principle. In Greek mythology, the river Lethe was considered to possess the power of forgetfulness, and the souls who were to
enter or leave the underworld [to be reincarnated] drank from the river Lethe to forget, e.g., aspects of their previous life.
Our three overarching research questions are:
what way does forgetfulness affect the artistic practice of a musician, and the
interplay within a musical ensemble, when it is used as a guiding method and principle?
forgetfulness and the river Lethe enable us to become artistically reborn
by way of aiding us to forget our musical habits and traditional reasonings?
will we be willing to forget?
The aim of the project is to investigate how forgetfulness
(1) our skills, habits, and the possibility for us to become artistically
reborn as individual musicians;
(2) our musical communication, experience of agency,
and our collective memory as a musical ensemble;
(3) how we contextualise,
theorise, and reflect on the music that we create with forgetfulness as our artistic
method and guiding principle.
There is a substantial amount of research done on the
relationship between memory and music, but the possibility of approaching music
by way of forgetfulness has not been researched prior to this project. Memory
is an essential tool for all musicians, and it is particularly true for
musicians who perform music that has no score, e.g., improvised music. With Lethe we want to investigate what artistic possibilities will become accessible to us
if we use forgetfulness, the antithesis of memory, as our method for creating new
music and to question our musical habits. In addition to the practice-based artistic
research that our project encompasses, we intend to – by way of embedding
ourselves in a discursive process – build knowledge based on theoretical inquiries
and our own essay writing, as well as to present arguments and reasonings to
help us and others to navigate the various streams of Lethe.
We will weave together practice and reflection by way
of continually recreating one and the same piece of improvised music from
memory. Given that we consistently play the same piece of music over and over
again over the course of three years, we can investigate forgetfulness as one
of the main phenomena that changes the music as well as develops it. Once we
have finished a performance of our continually recreated piece of music and it
has been recorded, we, as the research team, will not have access to the
documentation of it. In this way, our memory, or lack thereof, will become
implicit to the object of our research. The continually recreated piece of
music will function as a journal for our research, our laboratory, and the
documentation of our process. We will, in conclusion of the project, present an
example of what forgetfulness as an artistic method and guiding principle can
result in artistically and musically.
During the third year of the project, we will arrange
and curate a symposium on the theme of forgetfulness at Stockholm University of
the Arts, to which we will invite international artists and researchers. As our
point of departure, we believe that forgetfulness is an important part of the
artistic practice of a musician, and that memory, in certain cases, can obscure
an artistic development. The Greek poet Virgil wrote in his poem Aenid that it is only after we have had our memory erased by Lethe that we can
become reborn. What will we be willing to forget when we meet at the riverbanks
of Lethe and gaze at the waters that can wash away our previous musical