Ma-Hu-La evolved as a response to the ‘Her Noise’ archive, a project that set out to investigate music histories in relation to gender, and to address the mis- and under-representation of women, especially in the arts. To this end, I chose a biblical text, the Book of Esther, which gave me fertile ground, thematically and narratively, on which to experiment and reflect on the problematics of these issues. In thinking about how to formulate the project I focused on three ideas of particular interest to me: improvisation (inspired by Eddie Prevost), feminist considerations (in relation to Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray), and chance (in dialogue with John Cage).
The sound work comprised of a randomality-based computer software which played words and sounds from a recording I had made of the Book of Esther, read by three women. The software was operated by me in real-time, controlling the rate of occurrences and whether the word was sounded as a whole or as a partial sound-byte, thus breaking down the old order. The additional elements of my project included three live musicians (using ‘extended techniques’ in their playing) and a female dancer – all freely improvising on the spot. Improvisation as an art form allows its participants to fully express their own individuality yet takes into account mutual collaboration. My aim was to create a situation in which the participants, each in his/her own field, would confront restricting structures and find ways to bypass or subvert them, alone and as a group.
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