Soundwalk Collective and Patti Smith are presenting an installation in the newly opened MOT (Module of Temporality) in Kyiv, Ukraine alongside 28 international artists.
Recorded in Chornobyl’s Red Forest – a 10 sq km area surrounding the Nuclear Power Plant characterised by the ginger-brown colour of the pine trees following the absorption of high levels of ionising radiation – and in the abandoned urban environment left after the tragedy, Stephan Crasneanscki gathered an imprint of the city’s sonic past and present, as a point of departure for Soundwalk Collective’s sonic composition.
Patti Smith saw Chornobyl’s past as a tragic cautionary tale, a tale of children falling into a deep slumber for some 1000 years in a land now hostile to them. She summoned the realm of the Red forest traversing towards the reactor, as she hushes the children to sleep with a prophetic lullaby. The rain, now heavily polluted, pouring on the side of the abandoned buildings.
As human life lost a foot in Chornobyl, animal life thrived and reclaimed the land. Nature’s capacity to withstand became the source of great inspiration for Soundwalk Collective, and prompted them to record the voices of Ukrainian children from Chornobyl, mimicking the sounds of animal life, from bears to foxes, owls and birds, as if they were wild animals in the forest themselves, finally resulting in a vocal choir.
This piece results in a portrait, an impression of a long-lasting tragedy that serves as a warning message to the danger of nuclear energy. As the Ukraine war rages on and the threat of nuclear weaponry draws near, we are to be reminded of Chornobyl’s tribute to our hubris.
This film and sound were recorded just before the war started. These children’s lives have changed, and this piece is devoted to them.
Curated by Fabrice Bousteau