Manifesta 13 Marseille, France
The School: The Sonorous, The Audible and The Silenced
For two centuries, The Palace of Arts has been home to many of the city’s educational and cultural institutions: museums, libraries, archives, ballets, and now a music school. Throughout the building, rehearsals can be heard, coming from different rooms and resonating through its walls—at times clearly audible, at others silenced. The School: The Sonorous, The Audible and The Silenced unfolds throughout the building’s neo-classical architecture, encapsulating some of these previous functions. Simultaneously charged with the potentialities of the past, it becomes a multi-layered sonic space where works in progress are paralleled by virtuoso performances.
For most of human history, creating, performing, and listening to music has been a social activity. Over the past 400 years, orchestral music has developed its own set of governing principles. One might even think of the orchestra, soloist and conductor as a social body in itself, composed by clear hierarchies, rules and scripts. But it is not without its own historical and ideological tensions: between discipline and spontaneity, between individualism and collectivity. What does it mean to act in concert? How can we imagine a social virtuosity?
At the Conservatoire located in the former Palais des Arts, on the occasion of Manifesta 13 Marseille, Mohamed Bourouissa presents HARA!!!!!!hAAARAAAAA!!!!!hHARAAA!!!, a sound piece that takes up two well-known expressions from Marseille, “hara” and “aouin.” These sounds form an invented language used by lookouts around sites for drug dealings—chanted words used to notify of police sightings in an attempt to warn companions and avoid arrest.
Bourouissa poetically and politically hijacks these expressions, transforming them into a bird song or an alarm—mutated and distorted, the words themselves are no longer recognizable. As an abstract form, the sounds can be compared to rap music and to concrete poetry, an artistic and literary movement of the 1950s which sought to free poetry from meaning, rhythm and syntax to become a sensitive and visual object in which the arrangement of words is more important than their meaning. The artist dissects the clamorous phrases to underline their modulations and thereby reveal nuance.
Manifesta is the European Nomadic Biennial which rethinks the relationship between culture and society, investigating and catalysing positive social change through contemporary culture in response to and in close dialogue with the social sphere of the host cities and their communities. Manifesta as a recurring event has transformed itself more into a multi-layered and inclusive instrument of civic experimentation, by commissioning urban studies of its host cities and by creating new democratic projects. Manifesta was founded by the Dutch art historian Hedwig Fijen.
For its thirteenth edition in 2020, Manifesta takes place for the first time in Marseille, France. Manifesta 13 Marseille is divided into three different, yet connected, programs that have been created over the past two years and are constantly evolving: the central program Traits d’union.s, the Education and Mediation program Le Tiers Programme, and the collateral projects and events Les Parallèles du Sud.