His Master's Voice

If words could kill. 

Well, sometimes, they can. As was the case in 1994 when Rwanda’s most popular radio station (RTLM ) propagated manipulative hate speech that stigmatised ethnic groups and ultimately lead to the Rwandan genocide. In 2012, the International Institute of Political Murder (IPPM) created Hate Radio—a replica of RTLM’s set where actors repeated the 1994 broadcasts to demonstrate how, two decades later, words still have the potential to polarise opinions and create instability. 

Hate Radio, 2012, Stage Design of the Performance


Stepping into the room where Laure Prouvost’s It, Heat, Hit is projected, an atmosphere of disquiet settles. The pleasantly harmonious images of swimming frogs alternate with tyres squealing to the sounds of heightening drums that clash with a vocabulary oscillating between love and violence. The disturbing incoherence between images and words leads to an almost unbearable experience, cut short by many of the viewers.


Manuel, Sunday Morning Series, 2009

While most of the works consist of recorded voices that can be heard through speakers or headsets, or read as they are written or projected onto the walls, the exhibition’s last piece, part of Daniel Hofner’s Sunday Morning photographic series, shows a young boy in a pinstripe suit as he adopts a singing posture. Arms alongside his body, his fingers spread, and his mouth round and open, he should be singing. Then again, he could also be screaming out of frustration. The questioning of perceptions begins and underscores the most intense representation of the voice as the one that only implies it. 

All images courtesy the artists


Co-posted on Pavilion33


Read His Master's Voice exhibition catalogue here