La voce e il silenzio (Voice and silence) by Pietro Gaglianò
I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I am doing
John Milton Cage
Opposing the crowds that fill the precarious arcades and that face the emptiness of the countless windows of the Torre di Babele where the (biblical) fragmentation of humanity takes place, we lose the singularity of the original language. This misunderstanding creates a tension, on the contrary of all this there is the will to listen.
Listening is the definition of a space made up of people who are involved in a non hierarchical system. This space allows us to narrate in an autonomous fashion our relationship to a place, to a story and to our vision of the future. This is why the act of listening seems to slowly withdraw itself from the routine of powerful societies that only use space to dominate, to take advantage economically and to colonise other cultures. There is a project by Maria Teresa Alvez, Brasilian Recipes, which describes how this egotistical tradition has become the foundation of many artistic interventions. They are particularly geared towards post colonial events and to the new horizons of geopolitical maps that are nearly always shaped by authors as well as European and American academics. Having gone back in the 80’s to the Brasilian state of Parana, where her family are originally from, Alves asked the locals to tell her a story preferably linked to nutrition. Through collecting images, short stories on the community, on hunger, on the division of food… Brasilian Recipes should have become a book, but until now it has not been published. It represents one of the first attempts in a marginal country (of that period) to tell a story about the country itself from the point of view of someone who belongs to the poorest population. Without forgetting how it makes reference to the misuse of power and economic corruption: it does all this without looking down upon the artist anthropologist, without the burning indignation of the activist and without filtering the external point of view. Brasilian Recipes comes from a form of listening that is seen as a kind of consciousness, without prejudices, without the same old perspective, it describes a space in mutation more profoundly than any other documentary.
On the journey towards contemporary awareness, listening itself, the pause involved in the reception of a sound tends to produce space or in other words something that is visible. For John Cage, listening and seeing are two senses that are “public”, according to him they are capable of creating an immediate relationship between several people without the need for physical contact. This type of interaction is developed through the space described by the physical and geometrical presence of people and by the mutual or univocal disposition to the sensory experience. When in 1952 Davi Tudor carries out the first composition of “4’33” in New York he puts into action a precise and unrepeatable description of space through sound (it was equally as precise as it was unrepeatable to the exactness of its immanence); the comprehension of this complex dimension is reserved to those who choose to train their listening skills. It is also reserved to those who attribute to its fortune, to its nature and to the simultaneous presence of others, creating another value and a deeper interest which is similar to that devoted to opera. Cage (who said that he could play the grand piano, having access to 6th Avenue) reforms the idea of listening, directing the attention to the world and allowing the act of listening to define the quality of knowledge like a form of art.
The surrendering to the artist’s intentionality (but not to the task of creating the conditions of art) creates a creative function that unites morality with aesthetics. In fact, listening predicts the knowledge of the “other” that is created through imaginative thoughts. It involves very little.