for Useful Knowledge
and Non-Knowledge No. 14
about being silent in 4'33" hours An installation with 50 experts by Hannah Hurtzig
/ Mobile Academy
Turku Volunteer Fire Brigade Building
Photo: Vainio Kari
The Blackmarket in Turku practises and negotiates
the phenomenology of being silent in conversation - informing, narrating,
criticizing, gossiping, lecturing: a poetic silence, an obliviousness
to the self and the reticence of things, words and nature.
Photo: Vainio Kari
If one considers being silent from the perspective
of acoustics, one might say that we originate from a world of being
silent and return to a world of silence. Between those points lie
a variety of degrees of noise. A sociological view of the complicit
silence of politicians and cliques and the resigned silence of public
opinion. A policy of forgetting people and stories which will not
be represented in the public domain, and memory frozen in the form
of monuments. Silence, too, as an instrument of terror – the
taciturn patriarch in the family, solitary confinement. The staged
silence of an interrogation, in the theatre, and the ultimate silence
at the Onkalo permanent repository: please remember to forget forever!
Being silent and the silence we hear are thus merely noises that
are not operating at the time, a barely perceptible echo of an imploding
universal clamour, an almighty din. It is never silent; we are never
silent. But once in a lifetime, every one of us is rendered silent.
People like to portray Finns as particularly practised and experienced
people of few words. At the Blackmarket one can listen in to them
discussing being silent.
Check In, Hostesses, Photo: Arto Takala
4'33" is John Cage most famous composition. It was composed
in 1952 for any instrument (or combination of instruments), and
the score instructs the performer not to play the instrument during
the entire duration of the piece. The piece purports to consist
of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear while it
is performed, although it is commonly perceived as "four minutes
thirty-three seconds of silence". In the Blackmarket we will
have 4 hours and thirtythree minutes to perform silence.