“This renaming of things is so crucial to possession—a spiritual padlock with the key thrown irretrievably away—that is a murder, an erasing, and it is not surprising that when people have felt themselves prey to it (conquest), among their first acts of liberation is to change their names (Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, LeRoi Jones to Amiri Baraka).” – Jamaica Kincaid
Following a successful showing during CTM 2020 week, the commissioned work by Maria Thereza Alves and Lucrecia Dalt will continue to be presented at the Botanic Garden Berlin until mid February. The spatial sound installation “You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not” considers the Western practice of using Western scientific nomenclature to name plants worldwide. The audience is invited to walk through the tropical greenhouse wearing headphones that track each user’s movements to generate individualised binaural sonic experiences. Through this immersive installation in the tropical greenhouse, Alves and Dalt attempt to open a space for the multifarious voices of the forest—organic and inorganic, human and non-human, speculative and lived—while also pointing to their silencing and erasure by European colonists.
Alves has worked with the Guarani people of the Jaguapiru Reservation in Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul in Brazil since 1980. She asked longtime collaborator, Guarani teacher, and local reservation leader Maximino Rodrigues and his community to begin this conversation with her; plants were named and honoured with songs. For instance, the community named what we know as Nymphoides humboldtiana with Yvoty mboporã pónhuregua, meaning “five-sided flower of the spirit of the fields and forests: you will go away one day but I will not.”
Dalt’s sonics are inspired by the turbulent, unpredictable, multiplicitous nature of the forest. Using rhythmically sequenced patterns from its many voices, Dalt composes a constantly-shifting sound piece. Through wandering the installation, attendees encounter sounds, voices, pulses, and testimonies, ranging from the actual—such as music composed by the Guarani community—to the imagined and unlocatable.
The piece is fully reactive to one's position and movement, meaning bodies work as compositional agents—as the originator of perspectives. The complexity of Guarani thought emerges, as does its relationality to other beings and their surroundings. Yvoty mboporã pónhuregua, “You Will Go Away One Day But I Will Not” points to the beginning of a crucial mutual discussion.
The work is presented within the framework of the “Natur. Nach Humboldt” initiative, a project celebrating the 250th anniversary of Alexander von Humboldt by presenting modern perspectives on the scientist and naturalist’s holistic approach to nature. It is commissioned by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Botanic Garden & Botanical Museum Berlin, Die Junge Akademie, Deutschlandfunk Kultur, and CTM Festival, with spatial sound production from usomo | unique sonic moments.