Caroline Bergvall, Conference, 2018. Video Still: Andy Delaney

Watch: Caroline Bergvall, ‘Conference (After Attar)’

Caroline Bergvall is an artist, writer and performer. She works across art forms, media and languages. The recipient of many international awards and commissions, her work frequently develops through exploring material traces, literary documents, details of language history, sometimes through painful or forgotten histories. Her work is concerned with how to belong, and how to manifest the intersubjectivity that stems from bilingual and increasingly environmental connections.

This video documents Conference (After Attar), a multi-channel performance which premiered at Whitstable Biennale 2018. Drawing from Attar’s medieval poem The Conference Of The Birds, Caroline Bergvall leads a conversation between six conversants, who each share their thoughts on journeys they’ve engineered with their work, and the ways they each experience how languages and species move across places and through time. As the conversation progresses, adjusted voice frequencies and other elements start to affect the way it sounds, asking other forms of listening from the audience.

Sound artist Dan Scott worked with Bergvall to create a live audio environment which combines the live sounds of this conversation with those of a dawn chorus of migratory birds, recorded as they settled in Kent for spring 2018 – notable among these is the song of a nightingale settled for the season at Stodmarsh. The speakers were: poets Shadi Angelina Bazeghi and Cherry Smyth, medievalist David Wallace, nature sound recordist Geoff Sample, linguist Clyde Ancarno, and visual artist Adam Chodzko.  The conversation was filmed and edited by Andy Delaney. Sound recorded and edited by Louis Gaston.

[An] ambitious meditation on the way people, birds and words live in perpetual migration is a performance by Norway’s Caroline Bergvall staged in the Sea Cadets’ Hall among ensigns and pennants and walls painted navy blue. 
The Guardian

Conference (After Attar) marks the beginning of Whitstable Biennale’s two year collaboration with Bergvall on her international project Sonic Atlas, which draws from conversations Bergvall is undertaking over 2018-2020 with people who speak and have knowledge of a wide variety of “minority” languages, amongst them poets, scholars, calligraphers and ornithologists.

The collaboration will culminate with a presentation of ‘Sonic Atlas: Evening Work, a new live work which will be presented in North Kent in 2020.