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Indepth Arts News:

"RadioActive: An audio work by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri"
2002-09-11 until 2002-09-18
White Box
New York, NY, USA United States of America

Within the frame of the cultural events relating to September 11, White Box, a non-profit cultural space in Chelsea will be presenting RadioActive. This project by Ayreen Anastas and Rene Gabri, curated by Tanya Leighton, attempts to take up questions linked to September 11, as well as give voice to related questions which have emerged over the last year.

The project will take the form of a radio broadcast that will be played through speakers in front of the gallery of White Box. Passersby will be able to stop at different times of the day and listen to a variety of programs. For one of the programs, a talk show titled "Artistalk", Gabri and Anastas invited a group of prominent and emerging artists and cultural workers to gather in a downtown cultural space. Each of the invited guests was then asked to discuss what influence the events of September 11th had exerted on their work and ideas.

The artists have not always elected to deal with the questions so directly. For example, in one of the programs entitled "Middle and East", the artists attempt to consider the history of the Middle East by creating a radio play with two characters, one named "Middle" and the other "East". The two characters attempt to navigate through the region with the aid of an archaic map dating from the Ottoman period. Both artists originate from the Middle East and feel like they have a unique perspective towards what took place and the situation that has been unfolding in the last year.

Anastas states, "We believe that there will be a lot of things to think about at that time here in the city. It has been a strange and difficult year for many here in New York, but impacts have also been global. We wanted to make a work that would address some of the issues that have been raised for us, but do so in a way that would be interesting and different, local and global." Gabri states, "The funny thing is that we found that in approaching some of the more intense issues like terror and war, an artistic approach was useful. We think that artists have a responsibility to respond to this situation and try to give people an alternative vision of what has taken place."

The global dimension of the project spreads further to the curator of the show, Tanya Leighton, who before moving to New York lived in Glasgow, Scotland. Leighton states, "As we know, New Yorkers are a diverse group, and what we want to attempt in producing this work is to let some of this diversity have a voice. We also feel it is important for the many cultural figures living here and elsewhere, to participate in a dialogue with this community, and respond to what we perceive as extremely urgent political questions.”

Daily Schedule:

News on the Hour

13:05 politics of culture
14:05 security and its discontents
15:05 middle and east
16:05 who stands united
17:05 on terror
18:05 war
19:05 artistalk


13:05 politics of culture:
An audio report that collages interviews with a variety of individuals

associated or formerly associated with cultural institutions throughout New York City (MoMA, Guggenheim, Whitney Museum of American Art, White Box, Apex Art, and many others).

The participants discuss the two states in relation to culture and politics of culture after September 11th: Simultaneous narratives – fear of the other – appetite for (the narrative of) the other. A state of heightened censorship (sometimes imposed top down or sometimes from within) or fear – a state of apparent openness, tolerance, even increased interest…

Using these polarities as the framework for the questions.

14:05 security and its discontents:

Overworked police, security guards, patrolmen, naval officers, border guards, INS workers, national guardsmen, coast guardsmen, reserves, airport security employees, serve as the population for this program. We found that as long as we were off the record, many of these individuals had interesting insights to offer into what "heightened security" means on the level of the everyday.

15:05 middle and east:

A narration that combines languages, cities, countries, and associated sounds to tell a story about two protagonists named Middle and East, who are trying to find their way with a map which dates back to the Ottoman Empire.

16:05 who stands united?:

An audio piece that playfully uses the lyrics and music from the national anthems of the Americas as a way to introduce questions related to nationalism, unity, and the status of "the nation".

17:05 on terror:

The session consists of one of the masterpieces of concrete music by Pierre Henry ‘L'Homme du XXIe Siecle’ (The Man of the 21st Century.) ‘interwoven with historical texts discussing terror or alluding to its effects’.

18:05 war:

A radio play involving a conceptual war of ideas, sampled from the different recordings of seminal cultural figures, including: Judith Butler, Gayatri Spivak, Slavoj Zizek, Alain Badiou, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben, Hélène Cixous, Homi K. Bhabha, Nawal Saadawi, and Edward Said.

19:05 artistalk:

A round table discussion with artists at Sixteenbeaver group. The artists were asked to answer the following questions in relation to September 11:

0. What are the issues that make you/us feel an aversion to the two words September+11?

1. What questions, concerns, ideas, have September-11 and the uses of September-11 elicited for you?

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