How do the city sewers sound? And the human intestinal system? Arendse Krabbe allows us to tune in on underground and inward systems using sounds from sewers and our intestinal system.
Artist Arendse Krabbe likes to explore the different systems and hierarchies we humans exist in. This becomes clear when you are introduced to her site-specific sound art work for Struer Tracks 2021 which takes place in the city sewers of Struer.
"It is highly relevant right now that we are plagued by a pandemic - looking back at how an epidemic like cholera plagued Europe in the mid-19th century. It was partly beccause of cholera that the "sanitary revolution" was carried out in Europe, including the establishment of access to clean drinking water and sewage," says Arendse and points out that our intestinal system, which is undeniably connected to sewage as a phenomenon, has been neglected in medical science, but is now finally a research area growing rapidly.
Human mental health is in several contexts linked to a healthy and well-functioning digestion. "That's why I think it is important to be aware of and listen to these crucial internal and underground systems," concludes Arendse.
Arendse's work is therefore also a cultural-historical narrative about how a personal shit, as soon as it leaves the anus and ends up in the toilet and is flushed out, becomes a public matter when sewage and treatment plants are established in cities.
History of shit
Arendse is very interested in the structure we live in and how they shape us as human beings. The book "History of Shit" by Dominique Laporte, has for the same reason been an important inspiration to Arendse, as the author makes a point about how modern man, but also cities and capitalism, is shaped by the way our feces and wastewater have been handled.
"It is exciting to think about the process of shit going from a private matter that is connected to your body, to a public system, where shit becomes part of the city's infrastructure, as well as the transformation into a resource in capitalist society, like when human faeces are used for fertilizer to optimize agricultural land ”
A collaboration with Struer Energi: Armed with a hydrophone, Krabbe dives deep into the citys underground.
A sound art work in 3 parts
Her work consists of 3 parts:
The first part of her sound art work will be installed under sewer covers in 5 different locations in the harbor area of Struer. By merging audio recordings of city sewers and drains with sounds of stomach / intestinal movements, in 5 different compositions - Arendse creates an analogy between the body's and the city's taboo systems.
Both are hidden systems that we do not give much thought to in everyday life, but are vital to our well-being and for our civilization and society to function.
They maintain the city's daily rhythm
This is also the reason why the collaboration with Struer Energi(who supplies the vast majority of citizens in Struer Municipality with wastewater sewers), was interesting for both artist and staff:
"They help to maintain the city's daily rhythm," Arendse points out while highlighting Struer Energy's important function in the city, working in and around the infrastructure of the sewers.
Acording to Arendse, adding sound to the hidden systems, will create an awareness to the important part these people play in making the city's system work.
The second part of her sound art work will be a series of listening situations which Arendse personally orchestrates.
"I think it was obvious that the listening situations should take place in Wellness & Spa Limfjorden - a place for care and well-being that also gives the visitor a beautiful view of the Limfjord" says Arendse and explains that participants are invited to lie in a quiet and comfortable room, where leaves and other organic material Arendse herself has collected, are used as instruments in a soft composition.
In this way the sound universe will have an "earthly" character, which many experience has a calming and pleasant effect.
Arendse further explains that the calming effect results in the participants nervous system relaxing, causing the digestion to start.
The intestines begin to sing - and the stomach rumble.
I lyttesituationerne skaber Krabbe beroligende lyde med naturmateriale som hun selv har indsamlet. Foto: Frida Gregersen
For the third and final part of Arendse's sound art work, she will leave her own mark on the sewers. Actually in the shape of a sewer cover which she will design herself - it will serve as a permanent reminder of the analogy between the indispensable intestinal and sewer systems.
Arendse Krabbe got her diploma at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and works within sound, video, performance, text, collective readings and listening situations.
Struer Tracks is an international biennial of sound art that takes place in the urban space of a little Danish town, Struer. The biennial will take place for the third time from August 20 to September 5th 2021 - The theme is "Landscapes of Sound" and is curated by Charlotte Bagger Brandt.