Audio project/installation, 2019
Felix Obelix: concept, recording/production, music composition/performance, field recordings
Collaborators: Barnabas Poffley (audio mixing), anonymous hotline callers, archival interviewees, primary document readers
Supported by: Raleigh Arts' SEEK public art program
Listener warning: this piece includes some adult language, as well as mentions of mental illness, suicide, and the treatment of mentally ill patients that some listeners may find upsetting. Listener discretion is advised.
Dix in Sound in Situ is an audio installation that incorporates original music, archival interview snippets, hotline recordings, primary documents, and found sounds. The piece was premiered May 31–June 2, 2019 at Dorothea Dix Park in Raleigh, North Carolina at the inaugural SEEK Raleigh public art festival. Visitors listened to the installation on headphones as they walked through the park, experiencing the collapse of time and history, and connecting them to the artist, to the place, and to the sounds themselves. The audio piece focuses in particular on the history of the former mental hospital in Dix Park, as well as mental health issues in the past and present.
The audio equipment I used to make this project was made possible by an Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Grant from the Durham Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.
Thank you to: the primary document readers (Jane Allen Wilson, Hank Hardigan, Brian Risk, Tom Vanaman, Kate Lothman, Ian Ostrowski, Kathleen Block, Josh Starmer, Alexia Kelley, and Billy Sugarfix), the staff of Raleigh Arts & SEEK, Ernie Dollar of the City of Raleigh Museum; Alex Maiolo and Martin Hall of Lee-Moore Insurance; Tamara Kissane and her podcast, The Artist Soapbox; Sara Zaleta; Max Spitzer; Tift Merritt; Robert Cantrell; Genevieve Dawson; Erin Binkley; Adam Dodds; Ginger Wagg; the NC State Archives; Newspapers.com; and the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
My sincerest thanks go to the brave people who called the special mental health hotline I set up for this project. The prompt of the hotline was: “What about your experience with mental illness do you wish that other people knew?” Voicemails were left anonymously. If you are a hotline caller and are reading this, I thank you for your candor and willingness to share. Your voices really made this piece. I hope you like the final product.