Self interview about “Untitled. (Silences and hesitations)”

A multidisciplinary work by Anna Raimondo

With Camila Mello (video and editing) and Andrej Bako (sound recording)

London 2012

First of all, why have you decided to present your work trough a self interview?

This is an integral part of “Untitled. (Silences and Hesitations)”. I question the possibilities of silence – as a concept and as a sound – in different frames (from public space to a gallery, from radio to a piece of paper), with different kinds of audience (viewers, listeners, readers). I write a self-interview about my multidisciplinary work, to complement the video and the radio piece, documenting the performance I realized on the 27 and the 29th of March in different public spaces in London, as Dalston Junction and the market in Kingslandroad, in London Field and in front of Bcc, and in train and overgrounds. Indirectly, in this work, I am also interested in the relation between the performance and the possible ways of documenting and archiving it.

 You have realized it in response to Hernoise Archive, the archive on sound arts and feminisms, based in London College Communication. What are the aspects of Hernoise’s archive which most have inspired you? And what have you missed in it?

To me an archive is an ideal in itself, in its desire to be complete, to write the History, and I found interesting that Hernoise’s one indirectly reveals that each archive has an ideology, suggesting that there is no History but historiographies. I feel engaged with Hernoise’s intention to build up new canons including women in sound art, where the choice to refer to all women artists and musicians is “not as an ideal model, but as feminist (strategic) necessity”, to bare the uncritical acceptance of male dominance, as Hayley Newman has said in the catalogue of Her Noise exhibition. What I find a pity is that the interaction with the archive was reserved to a very specific public.

So, have you reacted to this particular aspect? Which was your demarche?[1]

I came back to my personal archive. When I presented “La regla de la música”, a radio show examining music and feminism(s), I conducted over 30 interviews with female composers and musicians[2]. Often, when asked about female influences in music, these women would hesitate to answer and a brief moment of silence would occur. I used some of these silences and hesitations as the source material for a 1 minute long piece.  I took this sound work, rendered on cassette-tape, and played it back to people in varying public spaces.  Through listening, the public space has shifted into a possible agora, where some questions on the matter have sometimes resonated. My work had the intention to extend Hernoise out of the physical space of the archive.

 

Let’s focalize on your extension to silence. Which is your conceptual context?

I use silence, as in Migone’s CD “Quieting” [3], creating a sort of anticipation in listening, to musically empower the other sounds in the piece -the hesitations- and of the environment, and to conceptually emphasise the hesitations of the official historiography to include women in musical canons. We can thus find in my piece what Salome Voegelin defines as “sonic silence” or “silence as beginning of listening” (2010), as it invites the public to engage in listening. Indirectly, as Iges did in his radio piece “Dylan in between”, I also use silence as a conceptual trigger for reflecting about the qualities of silence as sound after Cage.

And what about the relation between feminism and silence?

In post-feminism, silence is no longer a metaphor of a woman’s passivity. In fact, as silence is not the absence of sound, it is neither the opposite of the lacanian notion of voice[4]. Silence could be a gap in which Kristeva’s “Subject on trial” (1984) could resist the principle of reiteration which produces, for Butler, gendered bodies as representations and experienced entities. According to this, women’s silences in history could thus be reinterpreted as an attempt to include the lacanian desire[5], toward new possible social and linguistic structures. In my work, silences are proof of historical lack of women in musical canons, but at the same time, a form of resistance to its reasons.

You are over all a radio artist and the notion of interaction with listener has always been central in your research. In this project I can see a radio show out of radio.

As Brecht stated out:“La radio pourrait être le plus formidable appareil de communication qu’on puisse imaginer pour la vie publique (…), si elle savait non seulement émettre, mais recevoir, non seulement faire écouter l’auditeur, mais le faire parler, ne pas l’isoler, mais le mettre en relation avec les autres.”( n.d.)[6]. For this specific work I needed a total engagement and a real interaction with people, so that I extended my radiophonic work to public spaces trough my body, feeling inspired by conceptual artist Adrian Piper, in her need to extend art into daily life through performance, and by Christoph Migone, especially referring to his work “Gridpubliclock”[7].

 

 

Now I would like that you describe the three different kinds of documentation?

I first realized the performances[8]. In the radio piece, I used the medium as a contingent archive, in the attempt to bring those silences to the listener’s context, breaking the radiophonic flux and letting him have his space in it. In the editing of both video (made by Camila Mello)[9] and radio pieces, the cuttings make evident that documentation is never a neutral process. Finally, I decide to write this interview to unify and contextualise the final works. Now the reader is maybe silently thinking about what he or she is reading.

 Is silence the interactive space in all your works?

Like in Ultra-Red’s approach, to me silence is a space where I lose my ego and I meet the other, in the attempt to organize the sound field in a soundscape trough the process of collective listening.

I always interpret silence as a possible space of interaction with the public, as it activates engaged listening and creates the conditions to answer to the question: “Where am I hearing from?”[10], so that the public could embody his political position in the interaction with the work(s).

I would like to ask you more but there is no more time nor space. Can you please refer to books, artists, art works, which have inspired you more in Untitled. (Silences and Hesitations)?

Of course. Those are the books and the articles:

– Judith Butler, 1997, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative, Routledge, New York

– Brecht, 1970, Théorie de la radio in Sur le cinéma, Travaux 7, L’Arche, Paris

– Christof Cox A la recherché d’une musique féminin , in Her Noise Exhibition Catalogue, 2005,  Limited Edition Perfect Partner Box Set

– Lucy Lippard, 1972, An interview with Adrian Piper from Annemarie Bean, 1999, A source of African-American performance: plays, people, movement Routledge, London

– Hayley Newman, 2001, Performancemania, Matt’s Gallery

– Alice Lagaay, n.d., Between Sound and Silence:  Voice in the History of Psychoanalysis, E-pisteme Vol 1.

– Christof Migone, text about “Gridpubliclock”, available at: www.christofmigone.com

– Julia Kristeva, 1984, Revolution in poetic language, New York Columbia University Press, New York

– Ultra-red, 2008, Ultra-Red: 10 preliminary theses on militant sound investigation, Artists & Activists series. Published by Printed Matter, Inc., New York City

– Salome Voegelin, 2010, Listening to noise and silence. Towards a philosophy of sound art, The continuum international publishing group inc., New York.

And those are the sound works I have mentioned:

– Jose Iges, 2001, Dylan In Between, from the series CD’s Erratum, curated by the French artist Joachim Montessuis

Aviable at:

http://www.joseiges.com

– Migone, 2000, Quieting, published by Alien8 Recordings


[1] Anna Raimondo has some problem of dyslexia, so sometimes you could find some words in other language. “Demarche” in French it means “approach”.

[2] As Cocorosie, Robots in Disguise, Lydia Lunch, Loanna Kelly, Virginia Rodriguez, Ornella Vanoni, Aynur, Jessie Evans, etc.

[3] “Quieting” is a cd published by “Alien 8 Recording” in 2000. “In 1996 I recorded the cannon that is fired every day at noon from the Citadel in Halifax, Nova Scotia, all pieces on the cd are based on that recording or inspired by the shock of the shot.” (Christof Migone from his site: http://www.christofmigone.com)

[4] According to Lacan’s notion, the voice includes the sounding voice and the idea of voice, “which also means connecting – that is, not just metaphorically – the sounding, resonant, experience of an outer acoustic voice with that of an inner voice in, at times, its thunderous silence” (Lagaay, n.d., p. 60-61).

[5] According to Lacan, desire is something inexplicable, impossible to translate with voice’s articulation in a pre-given language, trough a linguistic structure (Alice Lagaay, n.d).

[6] English translation: “Radio could be the most formidable communication device that we could ever imagine for public life, if it could not only broadcast, but also receive, not only let the listener listen but also make him speak, not isolate him, but put him in relation with others”.

[7] In “Gridpubliclock”, Migone inverted the roles, letting the listener lead the show and extended radio out of radio, in the simultaneity between him and audience.  “Untitled (silences and hesitations)” develops different time layers. In the performance, I worked on here and now’s reception, while in radio broadcasting I have worked on idea of radio as past tense, as documentation, editing the experience, as I am doing in this self interview.

[8] The performance took place in front of Bbc Broadcast, Dalston Kingsland Market, Dalston Junction Garden, London Field, in overground and train platforms.

[9] Camila Mello filmed the performance and Andrej Bako recorded the sound. Once I have choosen the sequences, Camila Mello edited the video.

[10] Paraphrasing Foucault “Where am I speaking from”?