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Kind of Noisy Silence. Galleri Image 2017. Foto Gert Skærlund Andersen.


Kind of Noisy Silence

10:35 min.


Hanne Nielsen and Birgit Johnsen’s video KIND OF NOISY SILENCE features a choral work, where the notes have been exchanged for silence and gasps and where the movements are delivered solely through intensely held breath, alternating with impotent gasps for air. The work places itself within the tradition of historic avant-garde pieces like John Cage’s iconic 4:33 in which the movements are composed entirely of silence so as to raise the audience’s responsiveness. As such it is an affect-creating work, which we immediately recognize with our own bodies and listen to empathetically with our own breath baited. The choral movements stand out, clearly forming the structure. The conductor guides the choir with a sure hand: in unison or polyphonic they appear and recede into the silence of the pause, coalesce and dissolve, approach and depart in one, gliding, fragmented motion, in and out of nothingness, in both sound and vision. The fear of nothing happening, according to Jean Francois Lyotard constitutes the threshold where we most clearly are faced with the sublime. Where we are caught off guard by the black abyss: “What if nothing happens?” The sublime is full of both terror and release. KIND OF NOISY SILENCE thus translates the threshold experience of the choir and the viewer into an image of the lonely individual standing in front of an unpredictable, unreadable, and diffuse world, where we stubbornly try to maintain a structure on existence by at least gasping together in a collective polyphony. 

By Karin Petersen - External lecturer at Æstetik og Kultur, Aarhus Universitet.