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 mere informational is addresses you in a real space, in real time? What energies does it carry, transmit or construct? Gaby Hartel is not speaking of booming populists’ voices but of subtle and fragile voices offered to us in friendship – voices which might open spaces to listeners for constructive things to happen.
This talk elaborates how a fleeting thing such as the human 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 curator and broadcaster, Hartel will explore the oeuvres of several writers and artists with whom she has worked. A K Dolven, Raymond Federman, John Giorno, 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 their audiences to draw on their collective energies of imagination.
Heeding Virginia Woolf’s warning that “the human voice is an instrument of varied power; it can enchant and it can soothe; it can rage and it can despair; 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_Translator in Residence.