April 26, 2017

Beyond the Babble

Writer Vesna Maric reflects on Lucia Scazzochio’s piece, ‘Beyond the Babble’, presented as part of ‘Who Are We?’ programme at Tate Modern.

Lucia Scazzochio’s piece, Beyond the Babble, makes you talk to yourself, and face all sorts of inherent contractions, so that you end up asking ‘Do I agree with me?!’. Using audio and radio to pick out the singular voice from the cacophony of the world – and she does this in her work every day, going out into the communities and working with local radios, setting up shows with locals from various London neighbourhoods – she has set up a small recording box at the Tate Exchange space, with a mirror at the back, where the speaker can see him/herself while they are being interviewed.

Lucia asks each participant to fill out an equal opportunities form before they start the interview. I fill it out quickly, the way I have always filled these forms out, and say, ‘I hate these forms, they always feel so soulless. This identification through ticking boxes, it just feels wrong,’ I say, and then turn to the box with the microphone, and see myself reflected in the mirror.

Who are you, in this moment? Who do you see when you look in the mirror?’ I hear Lucia’s voice in the headphones. I look at the mirror. I see a tired face, a child face, a woman face, a wrinkled face, a face I see every day, a face I mostly like and sometimes I don’t like; but who am I? Am I supposed to answer this with any coherence?

I pinball between clarity and confusion, contradiction and consistency, and, especially when it comes to questions of identity, racial, national or otherwise, I want to recall my words as soon as they’ve left my mouth. ‘I’m amazed at the number of people who want to participate,’ says Lucia. ‘Audio and radio are so liberating for people, because there is no one watching. This here is an opportunity for people to reflect, see what they think about things. I think everyone is so busy all the time, constantly doing, no one makes time to just be. And this box gives them some time to be with their thoughts, even if they’re thinking them out loud.’

Lucia edits the reflections and makes a gentle soundscape around the Tate Exchange room; I am curious to listen closer, to hear the stream of lives beyond the babble.

To listen to the ‘Beyond the Babble’ recordings, visit Lucia’s dedicated web page


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