Württembergischer / Kunstverein Stuttgart
Acts of Voicing deals with the aesthetic, performative, and political significance of the voice from the vantage point of visual art, dance, performance, and theory. The exhibition centers on the agency and performativity of the voice. The aim is to examine the resistive the disciplined, and the disciplining voice—those voices that are heard and others that are not. Fighting to have one's voice heard is as much of a topic as the power to silence someone or to force them to speak.
Acts of Voicing, which evinces specially designed exhibition architecture, not only exhibits works of more than 30 artists but is also conceived as a stage for performances, workshops, lectures, and screening programs. It embodies a series of process-related installations, which are expanded during the course of the exhibition and are thus perpetually shifting the overall scenario. In lieu of a static space, an ever-changing experiential space is engendered, through which the exhibition visitors advance along different planes, even physical ones. Both the exhibition choreography and the way it is displayed accommodate the performative character of the voice.
The political implications of the voice, as explored and questioned by Acts of Voicing—which still resound, for example, in the German words for parliament, suffrage, and voting—hark back to ancient Greece. Aristotle for instance differentiates between the bare voice, meaning the scream that can do little more than express desire and pain, and the meaning-producing voice, which may signify the just and unjust, the good and evil. This difference is—at least in the Occidental tradition of thought—constitutive of the distinction between human and animal, between bare life and political life: that is, between those excluded from the political community and those included.
For the French philosopher Jacques Rancière, in contrast, political agency—as well as aesthetic agency—consists in the constant challenging and redistribution of precisely that order which is responsible for certain voices being understood as speech and others only as screaming. The aim is to prize open the existing orders—whether of a sensate, societal, political, spatial, or aesthetic nature—and to introduce thereto foreign elements that had previously been excluded.
The voice residing both, the inside and the outside of the body, in general is indwelled by a foreign kernel. It seems, as Slavoj Žižek has noted, as though the voice had never completely belonged to the body of the speaker, as if a hint of ventriloquism were taking place while speaking.
Acts of Voicing traces this foreign kernel, that is, this paradox, of the voice—at once familiar and foreign, internalized and externalized, tied to and detached from the body (and words). For it is the gap between the own and the foreign, the inside and the outside voice, that unbolts the space of the political and poetical.
Further information at www.wkv-stuttgart.de