The Great Silence, 2014

Allora & Calzadilla (in collaboration with Ted Chiang)
The Great Silence, 2014
3-channel HD video, 16 minutes 22 seconds
Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017
Courtesy of kurimanzutto, Mexico City and the artist
Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation

Overview

Over the past 20 years, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla have developed an expansive body of work that explores contemporary geopolitics, cultural artefacts and archaeological history. Combining sculpture, live performance, video, sound and photography in varying combinations, they employ storytelling structures and narrative conventions to probe the limits of truth.

Through an expansive exploration of sound, The Great Silence (2014) examines the irreducible relationships between the living and nonliving, human and animal, and terrestrial and cosmic. The film focuses on the world’s largest single aperture radio telescope, which transmits and captures radio waves to and from the edges of the universe. Located at the Arecibo Observatory in Esperanza [Hope], Puerto Rico, the site is surrounded by the Rio Abajo forest, home to the last wild population of critically endangered Amazona vittata parrots.

Allora & Calzadilla collaborated with science fiction author Ted Chiang to create a subtitle script written from the parrots’ perspective, which chronicles humankind’s determined quest to find other intelligent life. While this search spans the far reaches of outer space, the avian protagonists living just beyond the observatory ponder their spatial and cognitive proximity to humans, with whom they share the rare faculty of vocal learning. Only for species of vocal learners, the parrots explain, does sound play such an important role in the creation of mythologies. As humans scan for signs of life amid the consonant vibrations of deep space, the parrots reflect on the imminent end of their kind and the subsequent disappearance of their language, rituals and traditions.

This project was part of Sharjah Biennial 13.

Artwork Images

The Great Silence

Allora & Calzadilla (in collaboration with Ted Chiang)
2014

3-channel HD video, 16 minutes 22 seconds
Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 13, 2017
Courtesy of kurimanzutto, Mexico City and the artist
Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation

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The Great Silence Image

The Great Silence

Allora & Calzadilla (in collaboration with Ted Chiang)
2014

3-channel HD video, 16 minutes 22 seconds
Film still
Courtesy of kurimanzutto, Mexico City and the artist
Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation

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The Great Silence Image

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