This talk reviews the work of sound art activists who engage with the present-day Palestinian/Israeli national question. Meira Asher explores the power of video and audio technology; specifically that the act of surveillance of previously powerful state agents by street-level activists now both documents the existing unequal power relationship and creates a new relationship. The previously asymmetric access to surveillance technology is now being rebalanced, resulting in a more symmetrical flow of documentary evidence from the field. Asher shows that artists-activists can be as effective in the field as in the studio.
Dr. Thomas Burkhalter is an ethnomusicologist, music journalist, and cultural producer from Switzerland. He is the founder and director of Norient. He published the book Local Music Scenes and Globalization: Transnational Platforms in Beirut (Routledge) and co-edited The Arab Avant-Garde: Music, Politics, Modernity (Wesleyan University Press). He works as a researcher at the University of Basel and the University of Arts Bern, financed by the Swiss National Foundation (SNF). As the director of the Norient Musikfilm Festival, a documentary filmmaker and an audio-visual performer, he places emphasis on trans-disciplinary approaches between theory and practice.
Meira Asher is known for her uncompromising societal art. Her work has been released on Crammed, Sub Rosa and Auditorium. Her early voice-based albums from the 1990s were too forward-thinking and challenging for Israeli audiences of the period, but after her departure to Europe they attained cult status. Her research areas include activist social documentary and the amplification of the human body.