Voicing Silence

Voicing Silence is an artistic response to the Sixth Mass Extinction Event by Laurence Payot, collaborating artists Scott Farlow, Jon HughesLaura Spark, Stacey Atkinson and Mark Hilditch, and over 150 workshop participants. On this page is a selection of artwork and documentation from 14 workshops that took place online in the summer of 2020, with groups of parents and home-educated children, refugees and asylum seekers (organised with Manchester City of Sanctuary and Welcome to English, Hull), and other members of the public invited through an open call. Their explorations in creative writing, movement, animation and music inspired the final holographic video piece and display structure, ‘Voicing Silence’, which is planned to have a live audience in 2021. The artist residency, led by Payot, was part of the wider AHRC-funded project Thinking Through Extinction, developed in partnership with Manchester Museum (part of The University of Manchester), University of Leeds and Corridor8.

What if there are
none left?
Not named.
Not identified.
Not known.

Who is to blame?
Who are they.
Who are we?

I am extinct.
I feel disconnected.

I wonder if it’s permanent.
I dream of new life.

How will you remember me?
How will you put me in a museum?
Precious – slippery, ungraspable,
The stories, the laughters…
“Forget me not”, I cry.
Ne m’oubliez pas.

When I was born in Iran,
they planted the seed of a tree,
a cherry tree.
So I start in one place.
The place where my seed lands
Becomes home for the rest of my life.
I find my way in the ground.
And the rain falls.
And I am slowly slowly,
finding my way,
reaching up.
I finally find the sun
And I follow it.
And I grow
Into a BIG tree
Reaching out.
My roots are long.
I am this huge strong tree.
But then something goes wrong.
I keep growing
More More More
More stuff – More power – More greed.
More control – More selfishness – More cravings.
Why do I need all that stuff?

For further information on Voicing Silence, visit Payot’s website, Payot’s project blog, Soundcloud and Giphy.

Images: Video still imagery, display case photographs and figural illustrations produced as part of the Voicing Silence artist residency project, courtesy of Laurence Payot. Lantern slides, Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester. Images produced by and available from Lucerna Magic Lantern Web Resource.