Annie Lennox Releases Surprise Piano EP 'Lepidoptera' as New MASS MoCA Installation Opens
Last Friday, Annie Lennox surprised fans with an EP of new music — her first since release since contributing to the soundtrack of A Private War last fall.
Called Lepidoptera, the four-song piano instrumental is a companion piece to Lennox’s new art installation Now I Let You Go…, which opened at Massachusetts, North Adams Museum of Contemporary Art (better known as MASS MoCA) on Saturday.
Lennox, 64, referred to the 34-minute musical piece as “small ambient greetings postcard sent with love from me!” in a message posted to Twitter last week. The tracks were all composed extemporaneously and performed by Lennox several years earlier, “to calm and soothe whoever hears it to a place of tranquility.”
The collection, which takes its name from the biological classification for ‘butterfly,’ marks Lennox’s first independently distributed release.
In a new video, shared exclusively with PEOPLE, the music legend and fearless social activist goes deeper into the genesis of the exhibition, which takes the form of a series of mounds composed of earth and items of significance from Lennox’s life.
“I am a magpie of sorts,” she says in the video. “I have scoured flea-markets and looked at the flotsam and jetsam of what human beings are capable of creating. It’s of interest to me that we, as material beings — as creatures that have a life span — once we’re gone, all that’s left of the person are the objects that we have interacted with.”
“The objects here in the mound are all very personal to me,” she continued. “There are stories behind each of them and I’m trying to let them go.”
The mounds are loosely demarcated into segments of Lennox’s life, including her musical legacy. Some pieces contained within, including microphones, cables and vinyl records, hint at her history as one of pop music’s greatest vocalists. Others elements are less obvious and more intimate, such as the set of bagpipes played by her father.
“My father played the bagpipes,” she explains. “His breath traveled through these pipes, so to me they’re not just inanimate objects. They have a connection to him and what he did, and his breath — which is life — passed through what is here in the mound. I feel this is honoring an aspect of him.”
Another piece of the exhibition touches on her experiences with motherhood. Her children’s shoes “dance around the mound,” paired off and shrinking in size with each implied step on the trail.
“We have this measuring of time. Time only goes forward,” Lennox says. “Nostalgia and recording of time, this is our way to connect with what has been. I’m at this stage of life which is at the latter part. I’m thinking about what it’s like to get older, really. I’m thinking more about mortality. So I think one of the human challenges is to come to terms in one way or another, with our inherent state of impermanence and mortality.”
The exhibition will continue at MASS MoCA through the spring of 2020.
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