To Have Still the Things You Had Before (After Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale)
2021 Hand-flocked baby grand piano with 400 bullet holes 67 H x 58 W x 63 D in (170 x 147 x 160 cm)
In collaboration with Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, whose 2020-21 season features classical music performances set to artworks created by invited artists, Wang Huimeng drew inspiration from Igor Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale in making the sculpture. She placed a baby grand piano in the California desert. 400 bullets were fired at the piano, which left the intrument in a heavily scarred and nearly collapsing stage. She then fully dismantled, flocked, reassembled, and reinforced the piano.
The Soldier’s Tale was born in a time of great turbulence. Despite its innovativeness, the piece was a financial failure due to the 1918 influenza pandemic. Curiously resonating with our time, the music has a sharp, acerbic undertone with an intricate use of cross-rhythms and meter changes. To Have Still the Things You Had Before reimagines the clashes, conflicts, and juxtapositions in The Soldier’s Tale as a visual polarity between the delicacy of the scarlet velvet texture and the brutality of the numerous bullet holes varying in size and depth, reflecting on an increasingly polarizing reality we are living in today.