Song for Debbie, sound display, 20 min, 2018
Before becoming an art centre, the Delme Synagogue was a place of worship, where believers gathered to pray and sing. After the war, the interior was rebuilt using new materials and subsequently emptied of all furniture to become an exhibition space. These modifications led to a change in the acoustic quality of the space, which is now unsuitable for singing or any musical practice; the echo is spectacular and can last for up to 13 seconds.
Playing with this acoustic “defect,” Violaine Lochu has composed a sound piece, based on her own voice, which evokes the recollection of an old melody, deformed by time and unidentifiable. Broadcast from the section of the synagogue formerly reserved for women, the piece revisits the biblical account of Deborah, who exceptionally, and on an equal footing with men, sang a hymn, a true song of victory (in the Orthodox Jewish tradition, the female voice is considered impure, and therefore forbidden in public spaces, especially religious ones). From barely audible murmurs to flights of lyricism, Song for Debbie extends this subversive voice, seeking to bring out and make resonate the multiple historiographical, architectural, and semantic layers of the space.