Dropping the ‘H’

I was recently reminded of an exhibition that played with sounds and space: recordings of accents (regional or international) and projections of words in various languages, by French-Norwegian London-based artist Caroline Bergvall and Irish composer Ciarán Maher, hosted by the Arnolfini, Bristol, 2 years ago.

One installation, “Say Parsley”, was particularly captivating. In one of the largest galleries, small round weights hung from long thin cables attached to the ceiling by simple hooks, with the weights almost touching the floor. On the floor, underneath each weight, was a letter of the alphabet. Some of the weights stood motionless, others swung along an invisible line, while others went round in circle or in an oval shape. Some movements were small and slow, others were quite energetic. Each ball seemed to have a life of its own. Standing there in this silent yet somehow subtly atmospheric space, watching these red weights move freely in their own different ways, was mesmerising.

With local accents and urban speak in mind, the letter “h” had been omitted (or “dropped”) from the installation so that there were only 25 weights. By the exit door, was a box full of badges with the letter ‘h’ on for visitors to take away.

Stills from the video “Say Parsley”. (Note the writings on the wall.)

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