“Suspended Sentence” is a piece about colonialism, pollution and exotic plants. It happens, generally, in botanical gardens. Some sounds that I recorded during my trip to Bangladesh create the core of the piece.
I developed this piece for botanical gardens and similar spaces. The idea is to add a temporary plant to the collection of the garden. It is an unusual plant, not a real one.
In Italian, my first language, the word “plant” has two meanings. The first meaning is “plant” as an organism. The second meaning is “map”, typically “a map of a city”. The unusual plant is “a map of a city”. But this is an extraordinary map. Maps are, generally, pictures. In this case, sounds made the map. It is a “sound map of a city”. It is a sound map that creates a perceptual contrast inside the environment of the garden. That is the reason why I work, primarily, with sounds. To enhance the perceptual contrast, I work on two different perceptual channels. The vision of the garden remains quite the same. The sounds that you hear in garden changes. What you see create a perceptual contrast with what you hear.
The city that I mapped with the sounds is Dhaka. Dhaka is the capital city of Bangladesh in Asia. I recorded some sounds from the city during my journey in Dhaka. I was in Dhaka to participate in a Biennal of Live Art. The sounds that I recorded were sounds from birds, traffic, demonstrations and prays. That sounds come from the categories of nature, technology, politics and religion: a complete set that could describe the sound environment of a city.
Generally, historic botanical gardens have exotic plants in their collections. Exotic plants, in the XIX century, comes from colonies. Dhaka could appear an “exotic” country, at least for people of XIX century. That is the reason why I use sounds coming from Dhaka. To make a connection and to create a reflexion about nature, city and the idea of colonisation.
Another reason is that Dhaka, according to some research, is one of the most polluted cities in the world. Put the sounds of traffic comes from a city like Dhaka inside a botanical garden, is another way to create some reflexion about the environment and the climatic changes caused by our actions. During this action, I also use my body. I move from one point to another, from a three to another three, and during my way, I create some electronic sounds, in real time, related to my movements. The metaphor of the movement refers to the idea that a lot of pollution is created to move bodies from one point to another. Scientific studies say that pollution is related to several thin particles suspended in the air. That is the reason why I use the word “suspended” in the title.
But this word could be another meaning related to law matters. In these terms “suspended sentence” is a law sentence. This sentence is special. It will not be applied if this person maintains is behaviour legal. This concept is particularly interesting for my artistic research that is, at present, around the relation with body and politics. The thin particles, related to the pollution, altered our environments and our bodies. We need to find an alternative. Humanity has a sort of “suspended sentence” related to this topic.
At the end of the action, I donate to the audience a printed card.
On the first side of the card, there is a picture. It is a picture of a leaf covered by dust. I shot this picture in Dhaka. On the other side, there is the phrase “Suspended Sentence”.