12 October 2019, MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome
The musical performance The Fragment as a Proverb invites to listen to different fragments of popular songs and analyse personal and collective memory. In our technologised culture, song recordings have become widespread so they have become part of our memory. Agnès Jaoui, the screenwriter of Alain Resnais’ film Same Old Song (On connait la chanson, 1997), once said that by picking popular songs for film, she used fragments of songs like proverbs. The trivialities in the words of popular songs summarise the feelings, and at the same time impoverish them. Kristina Inčiūraitė amplifies this impoverishment by using an even more reduced form of song (humming or whistling) in this performance. Various pieces of music are performed by singers individually: the participants select listeners randomly, and then hum a selected popular tune into their ear, while the rest of the audience waits for an intimate experience. Thus, the intimate relationship created between the singer and each listener is an enhanced experience – the melody becomes a vehicle for memories and emotions.
Subsequently, the famous Japanese whistler Mariko Takagi whistles fragments of American songs popular in Japan, while private photographs are represented in a video projection. This video tells about the contradictions in American culture, which influenced Japanese society after the First World War, leaving an echo of broken promises.
The performance was held at the Architecture Archives Centre of MAXXI, the National Museum of 21st Century Arts, on the occasion of The Day of Contemporary Art organised by the Association of Italian Museums of Contemporary Art, with the collaboration of the whistling virtuoso Mariko Takagi, the Choir Master Massimiliano Tonsini and the Choir of the National Academy of Santa Cecilia.