Valse Triste – A Contemplation On Dementia – by Bill Shannon


Valse Triste – a contemplation on Dementia. Triptych construction of three violins in box frames.

I found three old violins in a brocante in France. They were pretty beaten up and a long time ago someone had painted them white. They were probably about one hundred and ten years old when I found them and the white paint had matured to a delicious cream.  Inside one of the fiddles, scribbled on a Martel brandy label, was a playlist, written in French, by the musician who last played the instrument. It is still there. A person dear to me was suffering from dementia at the time and it occurred to me  to create a kind of metaphor for this tragic illness – the lives that these three fiddles had had – the sad and happy tunes:  the ceilidhs: the wakes.  I brought the fiddles home and put them back together again, leaving them as close to the condition in which I had found them, using only the pieces in the box and not adding anything.

The violins are in box frames each measuring 50 cm wide by 81 cm deep. Because of their fragility, special arrangements would have to be discussed and made for their delivery.

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