Category Archives: audio traces

Interview with Support New York

Power and Justice as Unlimited Resources
[22 minutes, New York 2011]

Photography by Lise Chevalier

Kat and Milo share insights in the work of the volunteer run collective Support New York. The collective is dedicated to heal the effects of sexual assault and abuse within the radical community. Support New York focuses on meeting the needs of the survivor, and holding accountable those who have perpetrated harm. The volunteers also strive for a larger dialog within the community about consent, mutual aid, and challenging the society’s narrow definition of abuse.

Even though Support New York operates within a narrow local radius, it can serve as an inspiring case study of community empowerment and transformative justice.

Kat and Milo start of by defining the most important terms used by Support New York such as – survivor, perpetrator, abuse, calling out, and process. Their thoughtful reflections on these definitions always point out to the larger concept of transformative justice.

We discuss the surprisingly persistent figure of the “anarchist hero” and the reasons why groups who deal with anti-oppression work oftentimes replicate oppressive behavior themselves. Later, we dig into the concrete methods that Support New York employs to confront these harmful patterns:

What are the specific demands of survivors? What kind of demands are realistic? How does Support New York deal with revenge phantasies? What are the possibilities to involve perpetrators in a successful process? What are the limitations? How long does a process take? How does a typical scenario look like? …

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Diversity of Tactics

[8 minutes, New York 2011]

The following recordings combines two different protests which occurred within 24 hours. One protest was announced and failed. The other protest was unpredicted and successful. I don’t know if you can hear the difference between failure and success. I believe that the different energy levels are audible. But don’t trust me. I am speaking to you as a participant, not as a docummentarian.

For this piece, I combined field recordings from two different marches of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Both marches happened during the International Day of Rage on October 15, 2011.

The sound bites depict the highly emotionalized temperature of crowds. I decided to contrast them with a personal narration which adds analytical reflection to the field recordings.

I want to play with two time layers: The spontaneity of the crowd as it is trying to act as one body in present tense, and the individual voice that attempts to revisit sound memories after the march has occured.

Featured in:
The People’s Production House


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Brecht on the Staten Island Ferry

[3 minutes, New York 2011]

This is a short musique concrète piece.

One day, I embarked the Staten Island Ferry with a sound snippet from The Ballad of Mack the Knife in my mind:

And the shark, he has teeth
And he wears them in his face
And MacHeath, he has a knife
But the knife you don’t see.

Suddenly, I felt nostalgic about speaking German.
Die Morität von Mackie Messer
, sounds much more pretty in the original version:

Und der Haifisch, der hat Zähne
Und die trägt er im Gesicht
Und Macheath, der hat ein Messer
Doch das Messer sieht man nicht.

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Flirting with Tehran

It Does Not Seem Clear If Anyone Can Be Trusted
[36 minutes, Tehran/Berlin 2007]

My friend, Melanie Schlachter and I produced this audio collage in Tehran during the collaborative project Reloading Images. We were striked by the lack of public space in Tehran, and wanted to find out how young people manage to flirt under these challenging circumstances. We made friends with several Iranian women – and each of them took us out in her car for one night, and acted as protector, connector, translator, and most importantly mediator.

The soundtrack is part of an audio installation. During our presentations in German cities, the audience was listening to the voices from Tehran while they were being driven around in cars at night.

Commentary by Ashkan Sepahvand

The project Flirting with Tehran departs from a basic artistic strategy that, faced with a foreign and unknown culture, confronts the existing possibilities and limitations for public interaction in Tehran. Melanie Schlachter and Martyna Starosta attempt to take on the positions available to them in this space, as women, foreigners, and artists.

Taking the act of flirting as a starting point, the artists immediately noticed the lack of public spaces in Tehran in which young men and women can casually meet each other and exchange numbers. Instead, what stood out as a striking, improvisational cultural phenomenon was the abundance of youth, mainly in the richer neighborhoods of North Tehran, who jam pack into their cars on any given weekend, stopping alongside each other …

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Vorsorgen (Preventing)

[15 minutes, Berlin 2007]

Only available in German.

I produced this audio piece in 2007 when I was obsessed with the taboo of mortality in capitalist society.

“Vorsorgen” is a unique German verb which means “to prevent”. The literal translation consists of “pre” (vor-) and “worry” (sorgen).

Within a week, I visited several funeral institutions in order to plan all logistical details for my own ceremony. The consultants were all women in their fifties. I was fascinated by their way of talking about death as if it was predictable and unpredictable at the same time. The German obsession with bureaucracy made it apparently possible to forget about the existential issue that was at the center of the planning.

All conversations were recorded with hidden microphones.

Rundgang, University of the Arts 2007

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