fold #11 on Voice

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fold #11 on Voice

Voice art and responsibility SEA Foundation, Design Marina Menendez pidal
Graphics by Marina Menéndez-Pidal

Full programme

Dates:
July 2024 – October 2024

 

fold #11 on Voice
Ambassador PLATEAURESIDUE
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15.04 – 15.05.2024
Open call to co-host reading group on Voice

 

 

 

 

This research text is
part of our long-term programme
on art and sustainability in fold #11
on Voice

 

Find the full reading list on Voice here

Research

Voiced and Voiceless – are the angles of the eleventh fold. The sound produced in our larynx, resonating within our bodily shell explored as a material language; as well as the sound which can not be uttered aloud but is nevertheless heard as a form of an underground buzz; and finally the voice of others, of those that we, humans, often label as mute. As usual, SEA Foundation’s team is discussing the limits and overreaching interpretations of voice, we invite artists, curators and writers to contribute with their urgencies related to the theme.

With the fold #11 on Voice, we expand the library of topics related to art & sustainability. The inspiration for this theme is the practice of Slovenian artist duo PLATEAURESIDUE – Aljaž Celarc and Eva Pavlič Seifert – whose immersive video installations and creative processes amplify the voices of multiple participants including the natural elements and matter.

Voice of others

In the process of learning and unlearning, we expand the term voice to rethink who and why possesses its qualities, who does not and what systems of support can encourage its expression. Voice becomes presence but also agency. We approach it as a human and non-human feature. It connects to sound but also to the absence of it. It is produced naturally or technologically. Most importantly, we research voice in a non-individualist way; focusing on the voice of others, when the act of listening translates into an act of care.

Especially since the evolution of capitalism, human primacy in the sonic environment has defined what is accepted or not, excluding non-human sounds which are oftentimes rendered uncomfortable or disturbing. Introducing the concept of ‘sonic coexistence’, Nicola di Groce stresses that it’s ‘pivotal to engage with a new sonic ecology that critically deals with uncomfortable sounds, thus embracing the plurality of human and non-human sonic expressions.’

The above concerns have found a fertile ground in the arts, with a growing number of artists and arts collectives researching sonic ecologies and working on ecological sound art. The topics explored are meant to be as critical as possible, pointing at the voicelessness of our natural surroundings and bringing attention to the voice of nature through technology. A notable example, for her project Vatnajokull (the sound of) artist Katie Paterson placed a phone line connecting people on the other side of the line to a microphone submerged in an Icelandic glacier. Callers could listen to the glacier melting in real-time.

Listening

By perceiving voice as an inter-personal or communal effort we have to take the act of listening in consideration as well. In order to give voice to others, or to encourage them in vocalising we can practise listening as an act of care. ‘‘In collaboration with” is about listening. Listening to what the other needs, and to be working with that need, towards those needs to make it happen. Listening through practice becomes a highly attentive action that requires concentration and silence for the other to become heard: ‘an emptying of expressing your intentionality, without your calling out for it and even without asking, without overcoming, without annulling, without killing.’ It is through listening that we can create an openness that allows for a voice to become heard and amplified so that ‘the other’ can obtain agency through voice.

Material voice

Undeniably, the voice is related to language too. Bulgarian-French philosopher, Julia Kristeva, contributed to the theories on semiotics, psychoanalysis and feminism. She brought up the term ‘the speaking body’ which distinguished between the symbolic and semiotic aspects of language. The first relates to the cultural meanings and structure of the language, and the other is tightened to the matriarchal and poetic. It manifests itself through rhythm, tone and impulses. The body, according to Kristeva, is in a continuous process, therefore also the language – what we speak and how we speak.

Thinking of the body as a source of soundless voice, we reflect on our movement and way of being within our surroundings. Discussing the potential of this somatic voice, we understand what Juhani Pallasmaa sees in sensing and changing the world through our skin, as ‘the world and the self inform and redefine each other constantly.’ Expressing voice through the body or uniting sonic and bodily movements can manifest healing properties, allowing more components of our existence and co-existence to emerge and intertwine.

Voice as Resistance

We research voice from the point of view of those kept silent; the collective bodies who struggle for liberation, trying to search for emancipatory paths out of oppression. In her work If we remain silent, Ana Bravo Pérez created a memorial to Indigenous women who stood on the frontlines of the environmental struggle in the northern region of South America. The title of the project was based on the quote by indigenous social leader Cristina Bautista Taquinás ‘Si nos quedamos callados nos matan. Y si hablamos también. Entonces, hablamos’ (If we remain silent, they will kill us. And if we speak, too. Hence we speak). The works, film and textile installations, pay tribute to those raising their voices against extractivism and colonialism. It is one of the many bodies of artistic works dedicated to those who spoke against the exploitation of land and communities.

In other cases, the absence of sound, silence, can also become a radical aspect of voice; an act of revolutionary potential in the current socio economic landscape of acceleration and sonic overabundance. Silence can be explored in a metaphorical and literal sense, to see the ways in which an individual or collective voice can be expressed without sound and what new alternative practices it can foster. It has a strong reference to past and present; in the arts it stands as an act/method/technique to reflect, question and reconsider the way we live and co-exist.

References

Groce, N. di (2023) Sonic Coexistence: Toward an Inclusive and Uncomfortable Atmosphere. in Law and the Senses: Hear. University of Westminster Press

Gilmurray, J. (2017). Ecological Sound Art: Steps towards a new field. Organised Sound. 22, 2017.

Kristeva, J. (1982). Powers of Horror: Essay on Abjection. Columbia University Press

Oddo, E. (2021). Curating from the perspective of an artist: conversation with Anna Ruth. no-niin, no. 6

Pallasmaa, J. (2005). Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. John Wiley

Robinson, H. (2006). Reading Art, Reading Irigaray: the politics of art by women, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2006), 85. 

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