The exhibition La voix humaine at Kunstverein München
features works by artists that offer contemporary perspectives on themes within Francis Poulencs 1958 operatic adaptation of Jean Cocteau's one-act play of the same name. In this libretto, a woman pleads with her ex lover over a phone in a conversation constantly interrupted by a bad connection. The voice on the other end of the line however remains inaudible throughout, leaving the woman to appear as if she is conversing with herself. The exhibition takes this drama as its starting point to identify how heightened forms of affect are mediated in society today; from public exposure of emotionality in need of an audience to a consequential role technology plays in facilitating intimate relationships with its users.
For instance, the two new commissions in La voix humaine amplify the delivery of emotion through different modes of address. Amelie von Wulffens phantasmagorical Am kühlen Tisch (At the cool table), consisting of individually hand drawn pages installed around the central space of the Kunstverein, parodies the anxieties of a female, mid-career artist. Cally Spooner on the other hand has rehearsed several monologues together with opera singers in Munich using the operatic style of recitative. Rather than using classical scores however, Spooners libretto is sourced from the hostile language of online comment threads.
Existing and adapted pieces by artists Tyler Coburn, Cécile B. Evans, Frances Stark and Erica Scourti meanwhile enquire into the dependent relationship between affect and Web 2.0 user generated content and interfaces, such as voice recognition programs, social media and online advertising. As such, these works make a feature of how far a user is assimilated and mediated by technical and commercial conditions; to points where the technology flattens emotion, corrects speech, and is able to create responsive online personas.
A publication of Amelie von Wulffen's Am kühlen Tisch is available during the exhibition in both German and English and is co-published by Kunstverein München, Portikus and Koenig Books. It is additionally supported by Galerie Meyer Kainer, Vienna and Giò Marconi, Milan.
A performance of Cally Spooners, Damning Evidence Illicit Behaviour Seemingly Insurmountable Great Sadness Terminated In Any Manner (2014) will take place in the Kunstverein at 3.00pm each Sunday during the exhibition.