In 2017, I worked as a live-in caregiver for a woman suffering with dementia. Each day she would sit and play a song on her keyboard that she had composed fifty years prior. The Rehearsal project begins with an audio recording of her performance one day. There are audible moments where she strays from her composition, eventually hearing her way back into the melody. The following year, I worked with a musician to translate the recording into piano notation, preserving each irregularity or “slippage” faithfully to the way she played. While her memory continued to wane after the recording was made (eventually obstructing her ability to perform), the score preserves her recital of the song on that very day, at a midpoint in her forgetting.
Working in collaboration with musicians in my community and across the internet, I ask each to record themselves sight-reading the piano score, transcribed exactly as she had played it. While dementia is often stigmatized—we refer to the mind as “failing”—this collection of videos aims to consider the speculative potentials of memories to be passed, held, translated, shared, improvised, and bolstered through community transference and engagement. Rehearsal speaks to the process-driven nature of this ongoing work: a cumulative practice that simultaneously refutes and accepts the loss of a memory.