Marja Ahti

Marja Ahti

The Yard, The Room Upstairs (Still Life)


Tuesday, 10th November, 12pm – 12.30pm
Wednesday, 11th November, 3pm – 3.30pm

The Yard, The Room Upstairs (Still Life) is a tape work inspired by allegorical vanitas paintings. Aiming at a moving target, the piece explores the elusiveness of memory by alternating two thematically connected field recordings, each time with overdubs and treatments gradually replacing the original source.

Two memories are revisited alternately three times each. The piece starts out from two short scenes recorded on site: a yard sounded by crickets and a piano in a room. Banal yet charged with what is absent: other senses, inaudible sonic details, layers of emotion. These scenes are recreated three times: first with the original source, the second time with part of the source and the third time without the source.

Scene I: The Yard
Date: August 14, 2020, South-West Finland
Setting: An almost empty camping ground. A remnant of the welfare culture of decades past. A remote bay surrounded by forest, houses, cottages and sheds, peeling red paint. An overgrown playground and mini golf court half sunken into the soft ground covered with pine needles.

At dusk, walking across the yard. The air has a smokey quality and is filled with the rise and fall of the sounds of crickets. They are always at a distance, never near, stopping when you enter their field, then starting again a few moments after leaving it, like the wake of a boat swelling back into the sea. A mouse runs across the gravel and freezes motionless under your gaze. Faint movements in the surrounding trees in full dark green at the peak of late summer. The light scent of burning logs.

Revisit the memory of this moment over and over as it evades you, like the crickets, the wake.

Scene II: The Room Upstairs
Date: August 29, 2020, Southern Finland
Setting: A yellow house surrounded by fields. Windows in all but one direction. Afternoon sunlight. A rarely played piano in a large living room. A dishwasher humming in the adjoining kitchen. The presence of people downstairs felt but not heard. Amateur oil paintings adorning the walls. Portraits, landscapes and still lives, mostly. A book case filled to the ceiling with 70’s and 80’s bestsellers. A stuffed snake on a shelf, a cow hide rug, a hearing aid and batteries on a mahogany coffee table, a pair of large slippers. Another scene inhabited by the remnants of hobbies, leisure time, objects to fill out the measures of an afternoon that grows longer with each year.

Play along to the piano.

The piece contains samples of rehearsal recordings from another work in progress with Aino Juutilainen (cello), Johanna Kalliokulju (mezzo-soprano) and Villa Ruscica (harp).

Marja Ahti (b. 1981) is a Swedish-Finnish sound artist and composer working with field recordings, electronics, feedback, magnetic tape and digital treatments. Her work gravitates towards organic textures and intuitive tunings, assembling rough edged yet precise compositions, poetically narrative and rich in detail. Ahti has presented her music in many different contexts around Europe, in Japan and the United States. She is currently active as a duo with her partner Niko-Matti Ahti and in the artist/organizer collective Himera.