A continuous echo of splitting hymens (2012)

A continuous echo of splitting hymens is a 7 minute sound installation, shown at Akershus Kunstsenter as part of the group exhibition Murmur (curated by Ingvild Langgård).

Somewhere in the middle of the recording process, I shouted into a microphone: I want to sing like a continuous echo of splitting hymens! It was improvised – I don’t really know where it came from. What I do know is that during the early months of 2012, I became obsessed with a Michael Gira interview where he talks about the sound of his voice and the sound of his music as a visceral happening, the sound of punched and punching flesh. What is this sound? Who is this sound? Why can the sounds I make never reach this level?

A voice is where the body becomes sound. The installation places this sonic body, this I, in relation to the brutality, chaos, authority and sexuality of sound. Using my own voice – a voice very different from Gira’s voice – it investigates the idea of a vocal self, and this self as dominance and self-obliteration.

Music is, to me, an androgynous possibility – it can be a place to think through masculinity and femininity. At the same time, rock music is extremely male dominated, and most of the time the music uses noise, loudness and effects (traditionally attributed to the feminine) in a controlled, structured context. So, is rock a form of controlling the feminine?

Not so with Swans. In his brilliant review of their latest live album, Luke Turner writes:

”So many of the aesthetics of the wild men of rock are based around cliché and empty gestures, the clowning around as cowboys, the toying with occultism, the pretence at degeneracy by men who probably never offer their poor spouses anything but the missionary position, and oral only on odd-numbered Tuesdays. Swans, on the other hand, with all their belligerence and sonic brutalism, do it all so hard and so well it feels like masculinity toppling back and falling over itself … so heavy with anger and sweat and violence that it actually transcends gender, and instead breaks apart what it means to be human, and confronted by the overwhelming joy and pleasure of sound.”

A continuous echo of splitting hymens whispers:

Give me that sound.