walkie-talkie too

Orquestina de Pigmeos, Clare Qualmann’s report

Orquestina de Pigmeos, Sound Walking Performance,

Zutendaal, Belgium, September 15th 2012

As we walk along a back street in Zutendaal, away from the school playground where we began, a couple of cars pass forcing the crowd of maybe 100 people to part. I wonder what they think is happening.

The walk was introduced in Spanish and Flemish so I don’t feel entirely sure of what is happening, but I am following quietly.

A gate to the cemetery is opened and a bottle neck forms as we turn in. The cemetery feels particularly Belgian, or maybe just particularly different from cemeteries I am familiar with. The memorials are large and blocky and shiny with photographs of the deceased.

We pause in the centre around what I take to be a memorial – maybe a war memorial though I don’t have a close enough look to be sure. After a moment or two of quiet – looking around and listening (it has been billed as a sound walk) the floodlights on the football pitch next door are switched on. The sound of a game starts – shouting, screeching, whistles, running, kicking a ball.

We listen for a while then the groups moves forwards out through the gates and around the corner to see what we have been hearing – but there’s no one there, just the swoosh of the sprinklers watering the grass – a phantom football interlude.

The walk continues dipping in and out of Zutendaal’s spaces – with magical and unexpected sights and sounds: chickens squawking; silent ballroom dancing; street sign percussion; stone carving in the woods; an invisible choir.

As we emerge from the forest onto the road we all are invited to participate – a stone and a piece of wood to tap our way together on the final stretch to the farm yard – following the spectre of (I think) Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers dancing on the surfaces that present themselves, dipping in and out of focus, shifting scale over houses, trees, road, barn wall. We finish in the barn with the chickens watching – the sounds of the straw amplified, a band to dance to and apple juice freshly pressed.

Orquestina de Pigmeos are Nilo Gallego and Chuz Dominguez




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