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22The Rivers Cradle

Leonel Vásquez 1981, Sibaté, Colombia. Lives and works in Bogotá, Colombia

Understanding and Interacting with reality requires careful and deep attention to its sounds. As our interpretation is subject to the influence of meanings, interests, and powers, listening is more than anything else a political act.I work in a manner in which, as a listener, I am a witness; sounds and silences are a footprint inseparable from the circumstances that have surrounded me, a demolished house, an unburied corpse, unresolved grief, a dry river, a silenced song…


Sound, as a subtle substance, transparent, without form, and at the same time a vibratile and malleable force, has permitted me to shape experiences of the body and of space within the flow of time and emotion. In my artistic work I seek to make time for the process of listening in order to truly hear the sounds and their petitions. I stubbornly investigate ways to commit the body to the act of listening, make the bones vibrate, and let the sounds pass once again through the heart.


“The Rivers’ Cradle” (2017)
Materials: Acoustic architecture, wooden structure, systems of subaquatic and acoustic amplification, field recordings. From before we are born until the moment we die, water safeguards and supports our life, we are beings of water living outside of the water. The indigenous authorities of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta in Colombia believe that, like the mother to the child, mother earth gives us her breast, that the springs are the breasts that form the rivers and oceans. The silence of the dry rivers and the missing rain, in contrast to the violent, intense surges during the winters are the urgent expression of a territory in crisis, partly due to natural causes, and in part a result of human actions. Water is neither created nor lost, it flows and transforms, these fluctuations are all part of its natural cycle, but it is us, humanity, who are in ultimately put in danger as a species.


In the indigenous andean worldview, water nurtures human life, and at the same time, allows itself to be cared for by humans. And so, in the same way that there is a lullaby for when a child is held captive by chaos, a song to bring order, to call in tranquilidad and dreams, in these difficult times of droughts and floods there is also a song to bring order to the forces of nature. The construction of this architecture responds to the need to create a meeting space for these two beings of water, it functions as a protective resonant membrane permitting the voice as a sonic force to build a new home, one in which the river, through the voice of women, serenades life.


© Sofie Isaksson / OpenART


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