by these straits to die (2022) is a sound installation that hones in on listening in its violent registers, where whiteness operates inaudibly to distort and silence the suffering of Black, Indigenous, and racialized people. Drawn from the parallel resonances of Naomi Musenga’s death in France—who was mocked and refused life-saving assistance by a white medical SAMU operator—and the drowning of Eritrean and Somali “migrants” off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa— whose cries for help were mistaken by local yachters as the sound of seagulls—the work configures the acousmatic space of the telephonic (please–)hold as a soundscape of extractive white listening. In so doing, by these straits to die works against discourses of listening that codify the act as one of inherent empathy and vulnerability towards the other, requesting audiences to, instead, wait in the hold of its failure.
- Rouzbeh Shadpey
Rouzbeh Shadpey is an adisiciplinary artist and musician with a doctorate in medicine and inexhaustible exhaustion. His work explores(de)colonial pathophysiologies of illness and weariness, with a focus on the aesthetics and poetics of neuroimaging, diagnostics, and fatigue. He currently lives in Tiohtiá:ke / Mooniyang / Montreal.
I would like to thank Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung and Nathaniel Laywine for their loving patience, as well as their emotional and creative support during the making of this work, the team at Centre Clark for their warmth and hospitality, the team at Atelier Circulaire for their technical support, and Jesse Osborne-Lanthier for creating a beautiful score with me.