What if our social, emotional, and creative capabilities were established by humankind’s oldest medium, the human voice? What happens when a voice transmitting more than the merely informational addresses you in a real space, in real time? What energies does it carry, transmit, or construct? Gaby Hartel is not speaking of populist voices, but of the small and fragile voices offered to us in friendship—voices which might open spaces to listeners for constructive things to happen.
This talk elaborates how such a fleeting thing as the voice has the power to form potent emotional structures, in Richard Sennett’s phrasing. Such emotional structures might ideally create an intangible aesthetic space from air, simply by binding together listeners and transforming them into active communicators and thinkers. Hartel has in mind both Elias Canetti’s insight that a dialogue with a close person is felt as if it were an alchemical process and Hannah Arendt’s belief that a conversation amongst friends is the smallest form of public space.
Given her background as a curator and broadcaster, Hartel will explore the oeuvres of several writers and artists with whom she has worked. A. K. Dolven, John Giorno, Susan Philipsz, and Liliane Lijn employ the power of the human voice and the spoken word in their artistic practice. They create a type of magic through listening which in turn evokes thought, thus empowering audiences to draw on their collective energies of imagination.
Heeding Virginia Woolf’s warning that “a voice is a beautiful instrument. It can enrage, it can enchant, but when it lectures it almost always bores,” Hartel will present her talk in the form of a radio programme.
Gaby Hartel is a curator, translator, and award-winning broadcaster based in Berlin and London. Her portfolio encompasses the intersections of media, literature, and contemporary art, with a special focus on sound art. Gaby Hartel has taught and published widely in these fields. Exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (n.b.k.), Akademie der Künste Berlin, and ZKM Karlsruhe, among others. She is currently IFK_Guest of the Director.