My work for White Zinfandel and Kunstverein NY is the result of curator Ashley Rawlings inviting selected artists to draw inspiration from a chapter of the very controversial and very abrasive manual for the perfect little terrorist that is The Anarchist Cookbook.
The chapter I chose is titled « Voice-activated tape recorders ».
I most likely opted for it because it defied any direct translation which struck me as an immediate paradox – it was the only chapter of the book to deal directly with human voices whereas my work needed to fit onto paper. A voice-activated tape recorder is a device that switches on solely when words are pronounced and which is used to tap the enemy’s phone (by the representative of the established order, government or associated with the government). It saves from having to listen through many hours of wiretapping in order to find those precious few seconds of emitted calls…
I asked myself whether it was possible to invent a machine working in the exact reversed manner. A mechanism that would record everything but human voices. Silences as well as background noises, shocks, rustling, sighs, etc. Evidently, today’s technology, more particularly voice recognition, enables the making of such a device which I would have pursued if my work didn’t need to lend itself to the magazine print and online edition of White Zinfandel. I then wrote a short story in which the narrator has manufactured this silence-activated tape recorder and uses it during a week spent travelling with his friend/girlfriend/whatever in order to tape what is essential according to him. After writing this particular short story, I decided to make this voyage. I left and travelled all the way to the south of France then Paris and then London where I spent a week. I have photographed this trip and this week like the magnetic tape of my imaginary machine would have recorded it: I visually documented the silences, the dents, the waiting, the in between. I’ve photographed the instants that don’t speak but tell so much. I’m questioning the matter of language, of words, of what is left unsaid, because at my age I still don’t know whether it is better to speak or to be quiet.

Julien Levy