SHELLS WITHIN SHELLS
Anatomy of Political Melancholy
Schwarz Foundation, Athens Conservatory, Greece
Shells Within Shells is a sound installation that consists of two situations -experienced from headphones – set in a defined space. The concept is based on an erlier work from 2012 titled Pintojen välissä but in Athens the piece was configured especially for the idiosyncratic architecture of the Athens Conservatory and presented both in English and in Greek.
Through a short narrative and using a specific binaural recording technique (a recording that mimics the human hearing) the soundscape creates an encounter that positions the viewer within the artwork and make the viewer’s presence – and his/her body – an integral part of the work itself. Balancing between a private, intimate experience and a shared, inter-subjective situation, the work reflects on questions regarding the self and its relation to others.
We are not solely fixed isolated entities, but a myriad of things – experiences, encounters, knowledge – are continuously formed and in a constant affiliation and negotiation with the outside. Language is our tool to share complex thoughts between each other; we use it for creating dialogue or stating an opinion. It makes the forming of any community possible. However, the language that we are exposed to goes further than mere communication, it also forms our thinking. It influences our perception and understanding of the world around us. The text, though not overtly political, raises larger questions concerning the self, how we position ourselves in relation to others, how we take on different roles in different situations – and how language determines belief systems. It intimates at how we form ourselves in a relation to the socio-cultural climate we are subjected to. The language and words that we are exposed to – hence also political discourse – influence our thinking, our way of perceiving and interpreting the world. Simultaneously, when we speak, we also influence all that surrounds us, which entails a responsibility towards the other.