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Podcast: The QuaRANTine Choir
Growing and Growling

Scattered, but collective: The QuaRANTine Choir
Scattered, but collective: The QuaRANTine Choir | Illustration (detail): Wiley Hoard

The QuaRANTine Choir is an artistic chain reaction, a choir separated by time and space. In the podcast’s ten episodes, artists and musicians play with the idea of the rant.

By Denise Elsman & Petra Roggel

The QuaRANTine Choir is a “growing and growling” digital audio series of tantrums from a feminist perspective. The specially produced contributions are contemporary in their form, a scattered choir in the apocalyptic Covid era. Structurally, the podcast works like a chain reaction that connects different geographic regions in Europe and the USA. Each finished artistic tirade or rant is sent as the source material to the next artist in another country, thus strengthening the feeling of solidarity.

Artistic tirades

The Goethe-Institut Chicago, District * Schule ohne Zentrum Berlin and the two initiators of the project, Sandra Teitge and Caroline Spellenberg, invited ten European and American artists and musicians, all women, to take part in  the QuaRANTine Choir. Together with Nora Turato (Croatia/Netherlands), Astrit Ismaili (Kosovo/ Netherlands), Felicia Atkinson (France/Switzerland), Fauna (Austria) and many more artists, the podcast aims to open up a discursive field at the interface of anger and intersectional feminism.

Artist Nora Turato, whose rant opens the podcast series, incessantly calls for an almost nonsensical desire to be loud, too much, unstable, possibly insane in public and to make something out of it, in her performances largely because the general public seems not quite ready to have a woman shriek, rant, gossip, and whine at them, or stare them down.

The potential of noise

“Every sound we make is a bit of autobiography, [...] a piece of inside projected to the outside. The censorship of such projections is a task of patriarchal culture,” wrote the Canadian poet Anne Carson. During the pandemic, silence seems to dominate the scene – but there is also a lot of noise. Whether productive or superfluous, “[noise], understood as maximum uncertainty, is what calls forth and hence precedes the normativity of reason, i.e. the judgement according to which uncertainty is valued as informative or discarded as spurious,” as defined by Cecile Malaspina, author of An Epistemology of Noise. “We can now think of noise in terms of [...] a state of suspension or indecision, from which reason emancipates itself with acts of self-grounding.”

While women of ancient Greece were not encouraged to utter uncontrolled shrieks in the civic area of the polis, in their common public space, or within earshot of men, women today can – and do. The QuaRANTine Choir starts from such theoretical ideas and releases the artistic potential of noise for these times of crisis. The intimacy of the production and listening situation via mobile phones or other mobile devices also reflects their widespread use, which is replacing physical and personal mobility today.

Since 3 June, a new weekly episode of the series has been released on SoundCloud every Tuesday and will go on until the first season ends after ten episodes.

A second season will begin on 1 September. “Voices from Minneapolis,” the subtitle of the second QuaRANTine Choir, will be based on the demonstrations and protests in the US and worldwide that were triggered by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Artists, musicians and activists from Minneapolis will then form a scattered, collective choir with collaborators from Berlin.