Cultural Spaces

Leonie Roessler field recording in Iran

Cultural Spaces is a sound installation project that was featured in The Story of Space Festival (India), twice in Iran for Limited Access Festival and at New Media Society, and twice in the The Hague during Hoogtij and Museumnacht at the Nutshuis. In 2023, one of the pieces of the India Installation, Kalpit’s Kitchen, is being heard at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kerala, India.

The pieces went on tour in Iran in the beginning of 2019 - with the generous support of STROOM DEN HAAG, and the logistic help of New Media Society, which hosted me as artist in residency in Iran.

They were installed at Noein Space in Tehran, in the catacombs beneath the central mosque in Yazd, and in the amazing Motorkhooneh gallery in Shiraz, 20 meters underground. Below a time-lapse of the installation set-up, and a time-lapse of a bit of the opening afternoon.

I spent several days recording sound in Shiraz - the material for the next installation. Where might that take me?

Leonie Roessler field recording in Shiraz, Iran

A number of Cultural Spaces pieces were featured on the radio for Radiophrenia Art Radio Festival, Concertsender, Lights Out Listening, Syrphe Collaboradio Berlin, Musica Dispersa Radio, Radio RAAR, Radioart 106. My cycle of six The Hague pieces was featured monthly on The Cutty Strange on Wavefarm and then for a season on TeslaFM in Barcelona. The portraits of Tehran and Isfahan that have their origin in Limited Access Festival were released as an album Tehrsfahan at Musica Dispersa Records in Barcelona.

“Harbor”, part of the The Hague series, was competition winner for GRIT Collaborative in the US. “Haagse Markt” and “Grote Kerk” were winners of the Ars Electronica Competition for Forum Wallis, Switzerland in 2017.

“Panjim and Then”, product of the Field Recordings made during The Story of Space Festival in India, was presented by Azimuth Foundation at Studio LOOS in 2018. I had made an 18 channel piece out of the material. “Kalpit’s Kitchen”, the second part of the Goa Installation found its home in the form of a 5-Channel Installation at Les Brasseurs in Liège, during Paul Deven’s “Dock-Ancient Palais” exhibition, where it ran for a month in the beginning of 2019. Kalpit’s Kitchen was also in the “Highly Recommended Listening” Compilation of the Ars Electronica Competition at Forum Wallis in 2021. It was then featured at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in India from December 2022 until March 2023.

Tehrsfahan is part of my three Iran pieces. It is a bridge between Tehran and Isfahan, a puzzle that uses sounds of both places and is slowly pulled apart. It was initially part of Francisco Lopez and Barbara Ellison’s project Audio DH and was also installed at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia in Madrid.

Project Details

Cultural Spaces is a Nomad Project, which carries itself from one place to the next. “Stop and Listen, The Hague!”, which are portraits of the place I live were the starting point. When they were installed in Iran I took the field recordings to make the next set of installation pieces. The pieces I made of Tehran and Isfahan then traveled to India with me, where I again recorded my environment to make pieces to be presented at the next stop… and so on it goes… I exhibit the portraits in the form of an audio installation that loops. The pieces are between 20 and 45 minutes long. People can sit or lie down and close their eyes, and be transported to different place.

Leonie Roessler field recording in Goa, India

It is a project for to be enjoyed by the general public but without compromising a high level of artistry. I carefully record my environment, sometimes returning at various times of the week and day, to be able to record all that a place has to offer. I select the most typical and interesting sounds, sometimes out of hours of material collected, and arrange it into a musical composition for the listener. I detect rhythms and patterns and layer them. I cut my sound files and use volume changes and panning, but never any effects.

The goal is to provide a work that is artistically interesting while creating an authentic portrait of a place. I am preserving something that might be gone sooner than we expect. (Will there be drones flying through my recordings in the future? Will the trams be less characteristic once replaced with more current models? Will we hear less birds? More insects again? Transportation now sounds different from when I started, and it has not been that long…)

Live Set

I created several electronic live sets a laptop out of the materials I recorded. The first one was simply called “Goa” and premiered it at Helicopter in The Hague, and then taken to Musica Dispersa Experimental Night in Madrid.

Live sets of the other locations have followed and have been featured in many venues here and abroad, including Today’s Art Festival. The record Iran-India was released on Noise à Noise in 2020.