The Perfect Sound

 

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In »The Perfect Sound« (14’30″, 2009) we see a grey-haired man chanting monosyllables, over and over, and a young man mimicking him simultaneously. The sing-song that we hear is captivatingly primal and intensely humane. What we see is an accent removal class for an immigrant conducted by a speech therapist in Birmingham (UK), a city which is paradoxically known for its strong accent. The British context is particularly stratified as in the UK language and speech reveal not only one’s status as a foreigner, but also the last remaining, almost impenetrable traces of the class system. With »The Perfect Sound« Zdjelar looks at the phenomenon of cultural integration through the erasure of difference in pronunciation and the production of neutrality; obtaining the (voice) mask, which allows a misfit to shift between different modes of appearances and enables him or her to blend into the environment–to become unnoticeable. As Mladen Dolar notes in his text on this work in the catalogue for Zdjelar’s participation at the Venice Biennale: “It inevitably brings to mind the tribulations of Eliza Doolittle and the haughtiness of Professor Higgins, transposed into an aseptic environment of a rarefied abstract space, with the colorful Covent Garden flower girl now replaced by a host of nameless immigrants.”