Voicing Silence

Voicing Silence is a holographic video piece touring Light Nights this autumn / winter, created collaboratively with artists and Global Majority groups in the North-West.

Extinction: What does it mean to us, collectively and individually? What emotions does it evoke and which actions does it inspire? How do we make sense of this assault on diversity, languages, cultures, traditions, and ways of life? How do we care for and celebrate what we still have?

Lou Chapelle’s artwork Voicing Silence responds to these questions, engaging with artists and Global Majority groups in the Liverpool City region and predominantly within the borough of Halton, through a series of model making, poetry, dance and singing sessions. These groups include: asylum seekers and refugees temporarily housed at Daresbury Park Hotel, Runcorn and those supported by A Better Tomorrow and Trinity Safe Space; Wat Phra Singh UK Buddhist Temple trustees and dancers from Runcorn; Men Dancing from Liverpool; The Studio Writes and The Studio Sings groups in Widnes.

The double holographic video installation is presented within a structure inspired by a Thai village house, a place of shelter and protection. In the garden of these buildings, spirit houses of a similar style would be constructed to worship and show respect to the spirits of the land, in the hope of bringing blessings upon its residents, and avoiding misfortune. The Thai belief in providing shelter for spirits who inhabited the land before us is inspiring, offering new ways to think about today's environmental issues and use of land and resources.

voicing silence image

Photo by Lou Chappelle

The work was designed and created by artist Lou Chapelle in collaboration with composer and choir leader Jennifer John, sound engineer and producer Dash, movement artist Kali Chandrasegaram, costume designer Rachael Prime, animator Laura Spark, poet Scott Farlow, film-maker Tim Brunsden and project co-ordinator Louise Nulty.

‘Creating, Thinking and Feeling through Extinction’ research for Voicing Silence has been led by Dr Stefan Skrimshire, Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds, with the help of Dr Dominic O’Key, Leverhulme Fellow at Sheffield University.

Dr Stefan Skrimshire said “extinction so often conjures tragic images of iconic species from the past preserved as museum specimens. In this artwork we see it in people’s lives and struggles: something that is resisted, contested, that inspires rage and creativity as well as sorrow.”

Further Information:

Biologists tell us that unless radical action is taken we can expect as much as half of the planet’s flora and fauna to become functionally extinct by this century’s end. Termed the Sixth Mass Extinction Event, this is a major biodiversity crisis that often conjures overwhelming fears of a decimated nature, civilizational collapse, and even the end of the human species itself.

Museums and galleries have a long history of representing extinction through fossil displays, taxidermy specimens and other images of the past. But their natural history approach struggles to account for the unnatural history of the Sixth Extinction. For unlike the earth’s previous mass extinction events, ours is an emphatically social, political and economic affair, driven by ongoing systems of injustice, inequality and violence against human and more-than-human communities across the world.


Voicing Silence on tour

Saturday 15 October: PRIVATE VIEW 18:00-21:00
The Studio Lacey Street Widnes WA8 7SQ

Friday 4 Nov, 17:00-22:00 & Saturday 5 November 17:00-19:30
Light Up Lancaster, The Storey, Meeting House Lane, Lancaster, LA1 1TH

Fri 18 & Sat 19 November 16:00-22:00 Light Night Wigan (Check website for details)