by these straits to die
Sound installation; parabolic speaker, wooden table, score
by these straits to die is a sound installation that hones in on listening in its violent registers, where whiteness operates inaudibly to distort and silence the suffering of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people. Drawn from the parallel resonances of Naomi Musenga’s death in France—who was mocked and refused life-saving assistance by a white medical SAMU operator—and the drowning of Eritrean and Somali 'migrants' off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa— whose cries for help were mistaken by local yachters as the sound of seagulls—the work configures the acousmatic space of the telephonic (please–)hold as a soundscape of extractive white listening. In so doing, by these straits to die works against discourses of listening that codify the act as one of inherent empathy and vulnerability towards the other, requesting audiences to, instead, wait in the hold of its failure.
by these straits to die was premiered at Centre Clark in April 2022. Listen to the artist talk here.
Related research includes:
* Toward the Shore of Listening: An Underscore: a loosely constellated essay on anti-Blackness, listening, and the acousmatic.
* The Pathological Earwitness: a lecture on apathetic listening, anti-Blackness, and the figure of the earwitness.
[Score codesigned with Jesse Osborne-Lanthier]
*Installation shots courtesy of Paul Litherland, edited by William Sabourin