Reetu Sattar creates a wall of sound in her performance installation Lost Tune (Harano Sur) (2016–18), the first US presentation by this Bangladesh-based performance artist. Lost Tune features the harmonium, a traditional instrument commonly found in households across Bangladesh that has slowly been disappearing due to the advent of modernity and debates around cultural identity. “Lost Tune talks about the loss of tradition and how difficult it is for certain traditions to flourish in this globalized world,” Sattar has said.
At MoMA, a group of 20 musicians seated in a scaffold structure play extended tones on the harmonium and the shehnai, a woodwind instrument commonly used in classical music on the Indian subcontinent. The powerful drone created by these instruments is presented alongside Sattar’s film of the same work being performed at the Dhaka Art Summit in 2018, alluding to the ability of performance to resonate across time and place. Through this performance of collective noise, Sattar suggests that vernacular cultural forms can persist as methods of protest and dissent.
Lost Tune is part of the inaugural Studio Now presentation in The Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis Studio. Studio Now is a series that champions emerging voices, forms, and discourses across media, from international and local artists.
Special thanks to the Samdani Art Foundation.
Organized by Stuart Comer, Chief Curator, and Martha Joseph, Assistant Curator, Department of Media and Performance; and produced by Lizzie Gorfaine, Producer, with Stavia Grimani, Assistant Performance Coordinator, Performance and Live Programs.