“Quelque Chose de Suspect?” (2018)

Acapella performance for a trio of migrant voices. Commissioned by the Goethe-Institut Brussels and presented live in Belgium on April 14,2018. Duration: ca. 10 minutes.

“Quelque chose de suspect?” (Anything suspect?) is a performance for a trio of migrant voices, composed as an act of insolence towards speech and accent recognition technologies and their deployment within the border industry. The composition invites the audience to take part in the slow, ritualistic building of a speech corpus of performative translations, engaging together in an anti-racist, decolonizing act of re-sounding the voice.

The ubiquitous phrase “Quelque chose de suspect?” seen in airports and train stations in French-speaking Europe is a clear example of how biometry is a performative everyday gesture, constantly enacted through the eyes and ears of citizens and against an invisible, constructed threat of otherness. Thus rather than seeking clarity in colonial and non-native accents of European languages, the performance aids in the building of an anti-archive of accents which refuses to be intelligible. 

Performed by Ghasem Mousavi, Farida Lehyan, and Moumy Chahou.
Conducted by Floris Lammens (Brussels Experimental).

Photo credit: Goethe Institut Brussels.

Quelque chose de suspect?