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Silent

2016
Pauline Boudry, Swiss, born 1972, and Renate Lorenz, German, born 1963

Often merging historical narratives, contemporary politics, and the language of cinema in their works, artistic duo Pauline Boudry and Renate Lorenz bring to the fore issues of the repressed, marginalized, and unheard.


In Silent, Venezuelan transsexual vocalist Aérea Negrot begins by performing John Cage’s 1952 musical score 4’33”, which is often referred to as “the silent piece.” Negrot stands on a platform in the middle of a busy Berlin park filled with ambient sound from the surrounding city. These atmospheric tones play into Cage’s notion that there is no silence during 4’33” but rather “unintended noise.” In turn, Negrot’s own gestures—opening a bottle of water, straightening her dress, puffing cigarette smoke—claim an auditory presence, making her silence anything but mute.


The chosen site, Berlin’s Oranienplatz, is charged with its history as a refugee camp from 2012–14, set up to challenge Germany’s restrictive immigration policies. Negrot ends the film with a song addressed to “Mr. President,” raising questions about the meaning and purpose of political violence and coercion.

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