We often underestimate how therapeutic art really is. Whenever some of the most awful things happen, that words alone aren't enough to ease the pain and trauma one is feeling, the ability to create and express such emotions is always there for us to retreat to. When creating a piece in response to tragic experiences and how they change the person's life, it's a reflection of the hardship that was endured and how one copes, leading to recovery and a stronger appreciation of life. Art inspires us to never take things for granted and show us that despite dark times, there is a light that always helps us carry on and makes us stronger than we were before. An example of such a creative piece that was born from the ashes of a tragedy and is a true inspiration is the independently released album, Inner Landscape, by pianist Antimo Magnotta.
Antimo Magnotta was a resident pianist on board the ill-fated Costa Concordia. After a long-time personal struggle, he composed an album reflecting on his experiences from the night of the sinking and dedicated it to the memory of the 32 passengers who were killed. Through the album, Magnotta retells his perspective of that night through by letting his music narrate. The title, Inner Landscapes, as stated by the musician himself, "is a music cycle inspired by my thoughts after the accident. It refers to this brand new landscape I was experiencing ̶ like a window in reverse. It is part of a slow and ongoing healing process". In an article by Lizzie Davis on Classic FM, Magnotta describes what happened the instant the Concordia hit the rock:
"People started asking 'what's going on?'. I tried to keep the passengers calm and said 'we will be getting some instructions from the bridge'. But the loud speakers were just delivering a ghostly silence...People were holding broken teeth in their hands, it looked like a horror movie, a nightmare. This big floating entertaining funfair turned into a death trap."
It started as any regular night, where Magnotta would perform at the café, when at about 9:45 PM, the impact shook the entire room, sending people off balance. Magnotta felt the bolts on his piano come lose, that the piano rolled out of its place. In the midst of the chaos, no one from the bridge communicated with the passengers and crew members about what was really happening or how much danger they were actually in. After helping some of the passengers and fellow crew members the best he could, Magnotta made his escape through a shattered window and caught the attention of a nearby lifeboat. He made it safely to land roughly by 3:00 AM.
The track listing sequence narrates Magnotta's experiences from that night, starting with a piece, dedicated to his daughter Sofia. The track Sofia reflects that he had last seen her 10 days before he left on board the Concordia and that she was on his mind when the incident was taking place. The next track, Where is Everybody recalls the sense of chaos and disorder that filled the room as a result of the long stress-inducing wait for rescue. Open Waters, Seven Short Blasts and One Long One and Abandon Ship depict what was taking place inside and the feeling of escaping the doomed vessel. The Crossing, I'm Alive and The Island paint a bittersweet image of survival. The piece, Thirty-two is composed of 32 notes, each note dedicated to each of the victims who lost their lives. In the final track, Losing Myself, Magnotta illustrates the effects the disaster had on his life and state of mind one year later upon his arrival to London. When delving into his situation as a result of the aftermath, Magnotta states:
"I lost my sleep, I lost my peace of mind and I lost my little savings. I was on the edge of poverty...I was suffering with post-traumatic stress and didn't want to play the piano...All I wanted to do was become anonymous and forget about my past...I had to learn how to play the piano again."
Picking up the shattered pieces in his life and relearning to play the piano again, Inner Landscapes served as therapy and rejuvenation for mind and soul for Magnotta. It was through this album project he could express the fears, hopes and tension he felt when the accident occurred. On his Bandcamp page, in the description for Inner Landscape, Magnotta highlights what he hopes listeners will be reminded of when they hear his music. "I found solace in my music and I hope it will serve as a reminder of the restorative power of art and the resilience of the human spirit". At a time when all seems lost in darkness, Magnotta reminds listeners of what comes after. When hardship and tragedy happen, it can be easy to ruminate in it to the point there appears to be no end in sight. In the end, because of that 'resilience of the human spirit', we as human beings are capable to grow stronger from even the most tragic events. We are not given a spirit of fear, but are blessed with a spirit of hope. The 'restorative power of art' is the reason why we create. Without our abilities to express ourselves through our God-given talents and creativity, ̶ just imagine for a moment how much sadder the world would be without art ̶ when tragedies strike, how would we inspire others during hard times? We try to find the right words to say when horrible things happen, but art can illustrate empowering sentiments that words alone can't do effectively. It is through works like Inner Landscapes that we are reminded that in the wake of tragedy, there is healing even in the most horrendous moments.
We all know art is restorative, but we sometimes underestimate its power and necessity. With Antimo Magnotta's story being told in the form of music, listeners can learn from his experiences that when a devastating event changes one's life, there is hope and alleviation. By using our artistic gifts as a means of therapy and self-reflection, we are reminded that after even in our darkest hours, we are capable of bring light into the world.
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