an area guide to things i make
and disappearing between the lines


Wiretapping, Codes ..

I have spent that last week in Seattle, Washington at the NorthWest Film Forum .. Installing SoundMaps in the new gallery there . Quiet grey days alone on the old wood floor and up on the ladder .. Listening to the list of songs and sounds that I chose to play faintly in the speakers . The evenings were spent talking about life and art with Hilary over dinners .. who is the gallery curator . We got on the topic of what inspires us and she asked me what was the inspiration for creating SoundMaps . So I told a story .. Then she worked on translating my story into a beautifully written collaboration . That is how we were approaching this project when we began to communicate . A collaboration between two artists and two friends . 
Here is the inspiration .


Noelle Maline’s installation Sound Maps is inspired by a story told by her mother. As recounted by Noelle, her parents were traveling in Czechoslovakia in the late 70’s. Shortly after they arrived and en route from the airport to their hotel, the taxi driver firmly instructed her mother and father  to only speak in whispers for the duration of their visit. As he explained, everything was bugged - - their hotel, the phone lines and, even the pipes running through. 

In 1970, it would have been another nineteen years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The liberalization of Eastern Bloc was still a far off reality. In Czechoslovakia and other Eastern European countries, surveillance was woven into the fabric of everyday life and with deep psychological effects on people’s sense of freedom.  During this time of history, the wall between East and West Germany came to symbolize the physical marker of the ‘Iron Curtain’ (later to be referred to as the ‘Wall of Shame’) blocking the movement of freedom. Czechoslovakia was one of several countries marked by Soviet occupation after World War II and, with restrictions on emigration throughout the Eastern Bloc.

Metaphorically behind this Iron Curtain, stories were shuffled through the invisible threads that linked the intellectual minds and spirits of those alive and deceased. While literally, stories and voices were captured in wires through the mechanisms that took tabs on people’s thoughts, whereabouts, affiliations and future plans. Emigration and defection was still an active threat to the powers that be and, with any fluid movement of freedom under strict watch. 

Sound Maps touches this concept of freedom through references to different modes of communication, whether through stories secretly passed or layered in different planes of existence. While black ink is scribed over, across and in between faces and bodies captured within old black and white photographs, we understand that messages and information have been and are being passed. While images are frozen in time, the artist alludes to the idea that stories, voices and whispers are transmitted between tangible and intangible worlds. Similar to a secret agent collecting artifacts, a map of found images and pockets of objects builds a larger contextual story. We may not explicitly know the linear narrative, but we know the narrative is embedded within. 

Interspersed throughout the installation, Maline’s larger collage and mixed-media works further illuminate and become anchor points where identity and mystery congeal as moments of creative discovery. Perhaps, we (as the viewer) stop to pay homage to a time in history when the movement of freedom was not accessible and, to the untold stories therein. Meanwhile, it may compel one to reflect on current cultural and political shifts that leave us questioning ‘freedom’ as a taught ideological point of departure and possible reunification, barrier and emigration, deflection and return. 

~~~Written by Hilary Bragdon Cline

The show will be up November through January at
The NorthWest Film Forum
1515 20th Ave.
Seattle, WA 98122

{ ..This last week in Seattle and the few days I was there .. Was 
when the world found out who our new President would be . The world suddenly changed .
Uncertainty and unknown . Confusion and fear . My room was two blocks away from where the protesting was . Walking around , there was a feeling of fear through the air . People were hesitant to look at each other .. Others yelled and argued .. And some cried . Helicopters hovered above for hours . The police were in battle gear . Sirens all night long . I went back to my room just minutes before the shootings happened . I kept thinking about all that was going on and how this was going to affect everyone . I barely slept when I was there . Texts and emails came in from friends sharing their reactions and making sure we were all safe and alright . And to be honest .. Installing this and the show seemed trivial in those moments .. On those days and nights .  I thought of the people I love .. And all the people I know and the people I don't know . I thought of people young and old . I thought of my family and if they were still here and alive ..  I thought of people and times in history and of all the side effects of war . I found out that I was not alone with these thoughts. Taxi drivers and bellmen and overhearing people talking to each other in the airport . People were more than concerned .
I think we need to be careful and safe . Soft and kind . Strong and humble . And it's important keep dreaming and to stay creative.}

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