The work of Quynh Dong focuses on the possibility of interacting with the city. Her artistic practices are based on music performances. In this specific project, titled Let me Hear Your Voice, she created a structure enabling a variety of collaborative musical practices, among which a concert to be sung by residents of Sinop, for which she asked people from the town to contribute to the work by singing their favorite song.
At another of her performances in Sinop, Quynh Dong puts together a group of musicians, in different constellations and registers ranging from the Ottoman times to the contemporary. The band performed music from Ottoman times consisting of musicians who had special old instruments appropriate to the music score. With those musicians who did not take part in the concert, she worked on music videos in a variety of styles, depending on the wishes of the participants.
Let me Hear Your Voice by Quynh Dong is a community-oriented work. One of the returning patterns in the performances of the artist is that each and every one of us is virtuosic, or each and every one of us is an amateur. This leads her to turn on its feet the position of the viewer and the object of art. The artist is interested in the aesthetics of mass culture and popular music, as a powerful source of inspiration and energy accessible to all. For her the opportunity of art to create pleasure and play, combined with the mass character of things like the culture of festivals, annual fairs, or karaoke performances, has a liberating effect on society.
The artist hires part of the musicians and performers directly on the street in order to cooperate with them in a variety of musical practices, performances and four video clips. In the videos, to which she asked people from the town to contribute by singing their favorite song, she carefully follows the desires of her performers as to how they want to be shot, under what camera angle, and with what props. At the same time they are invited to perform their favorite song in front of the camera or to choose a song from the repertoire of the Sinop band of the artist, which they sing for their karaoke performance. At another of her performances in Sinop, Quynh Dong sings together with her main group of musicians, in different constellations and registers ranging from the Ottoman times to the contemporary Turkish pop and folk songs.
The artist wants to make her work accessible to all, to overcome hierarchies, undermining that trained gaze of the “good eyes” which select images and objects of art through their privileged position and definite interest. She consciously rejects elitist language, trying to reduce the distance between her and the position of the audience and the object of art. This is why her cooperators are non-professional actors, and correspondingly these are amateur performances, often karaoke. At the same time, this provides legitimacy to the statement that every one of us is an expert and a virtuosic performer. In Western culture, where the profession of trained artist or performer creates additional distance between art and its object through the authenticity of the gesture. This is why Quynh Dong works directly with people from the community. The artist is interested in how she is perceived by her audience, each member of which could also be one of her performers. And at the same time, the town makes its appearance as one of the main protagonists in the spectacle in which all are invited to participate.
Text: Dimitrina Sevova
Performance, videos. 2012.
Assistants: Burak, Görkem, Cem, Derya, Nilay