The Freud Museum

Events Archive

19 November 2014
7pm - doors open at 6.30pm

Isabel's Piano

Screening and discussion with Nicola Stephanie and Mary Wild

A new film by Nicola Stephanie (British, born 1981), Isabel’s Piano (73 minutes) is a portrait of the artist’s uncle Steven. Furthering Stephanie’s exploration of body and space in relation to the camera, the film makes a quiet departure from conventional cinematic looking; its visual language emerges from a family relationship, rather than detached observation.

Sited in and around Steven’s house, the film maps a passage of two years. During this time he is involved in the restoration of an antique grand piano inherited from his grandmother, Isabel. The instrument, taken apart into thousands of pieces, becomes the material and psychological landscape that Steven inhabits. The film accompanies him as he attempts to cope with the extraordinary complexity of the piano, originally made by perhaps a hundred factory workers in 1895.

Isabel's Piano is a study of this self-reliant individuality, which exposes emotion and economics as influences on both Stephanie and Steven's choice of production methods. Stephanie takes a family member as a ready subject, as many artists have done in the past. Yet the film is unusual in its acceptance of the camera as a physical agent in the act of portraiture – the cinematography is haptic in its methods. Steven’s inventive experiments on the piano dictate the action, yet we experience his process entirely through Stephanie’s explorations - sometimes seeing her hands as they reach around to touch.

Nicola Stephanie (British, born 1981) lives and works in New York City. Her work, in time based media, drawing, performance and object making, focuses on the relationships between experience, representation and the image.

Stephanie has previously exhibited work at the Tate Modern, UK; Milwaukee Art Museum, USA; and Agnès b galerie du jour, France.

Mary Wild is a film researcher and creator of the PROJECTIONS public lecture series, applying psychoanalytic theory to film interpretation. She has delivered courses at City Lit, Freud Museum and BFI, teaching cinematic representations of femininity, identity, love, horror and dystopia. Mary Wild provides students with knowledge and methods to identify themes that enrich the viewing experience and broaden the horizons of aspiring filmmakers.

This website uses cookies to ensure we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on this website. Find out more about our cookie policy.