Voices Without Faces; Voices Without Races

This 6-channel audio / 3-channel video installation is on exhibit in the Art/Science Gallery at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA from February 3rd to June 7th, 2011. MOS commissioned me to create an installation which would complement the nationally traveling exhibit RACE: Are We So Different? which is at the museum concurrently. They wanted to dive into the topic of race in a more local and artistic way and I was honored to take on this incredibly important and sensitive topic.

Audio Sample

Audio MP3

I will let the wall text for this exhibit do the talking here:

The population in the Greater Boston area is comprised of people from a wide range of ethnicities and cultures. This diversity is exemplified by the neighborhoods along Route 28. Running for 152 miles through 28 municipalities, the road stretches from country to the north, through suburbs and manufacturing towns, past the Museum of Science, through the heart of Boston, and down to Cape Cod.

With the aim of capturing the individual experience, past and present, of race in Boston, sound artist Halsey Burgund and the Museum collected the voices of people living in towns along the Route 28 corridor. This audio collage—Voices Without Faces, Voices Without Races—is the result of over 250 interviews about race that were held at the Museum and in community centers, offices, and homes up and down Route 28, from Methuen to Mashpee.  The video, which traces the drive, shows the physical diversity of landscape.

Like the conversation about race, this soundscape of voices and music is generated in real-time and continuously evolving. We invite you to leave your pre-conceived ideas at the door, suspend what you think you know and simply listen.

And to answer the question of “why art at a science museum?”:

Through meetings with community groups, the Museum of Science concluded that a valuable complement to the RACE: Are We So Different? exhibit would be a component that provided local perspective on race in Boston. We decided that an audio collage could be successful at capturing an accurate sense of the role race has and continues to play in Greater Boston.

The work of sound artist Halsey Burgund provides a fresh way to explore the complex issue of race. Burgund’s collage of recorded interviews enables us to hear from people without our knowing who they are or what they look like. We become free of the associations, assumptions or stereotypes that images might elicit, and we hear their words differently.

Special Thanks

To Francois de Costerd and Ernesto ‘Eroc’ Arroyo for collaborating with me to create the video and photo portions of the installation as well as to the entire team at MOS.

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