Am Vogelort near the Rhine dam
Sunday, June 4, approx. 9 p.m.
Dutch artist Angela de Weijer created a composition for all twelve sirens in the city of Monheim am Rhein for The Sound with the support of the local fire department. From June 3 to July 2, every Saturday at 16:00, a total of four compositions could be heard over the twelve sirens throughout the city. Before the compositions, an all-clear signal sounded in each case, which is obligatory when using the sirens and which was not part of the compositions.
From 2016 to 2020, De Weijer worked on a composition for the Dutch warning system in view of its planned decommissioning. The intention was to create a swan song that would sound over all 4300 sirens nationwide on the last day of its existence. However, the decommissioning of the warning system was postponed several times for various reasons, and the largest concert in the Netherlands was never carried out. In the meantime, the society must deal with a pandemic, extreme weather conditions and war. The importance of the sirens is no longer the same.
In Monheim, Angela de Weijer has created a work for the sirens that explores themes of fear and trauma and develops an awareness of the politics of sound.
Performance on Sunday, June 4: Angela de Weijer presents "Siren Sundown", approx. 9 p.m.
Location: Vogelort near the Rhine dam.
Here, the modern technical siren made a metaphorical connection with its sisters in the water. Our modern siren is now a tool for communication and well-being - instead of warning and fear. De Weijer intended to slow down the perception of time by perceiving the natural soundscape of Monheim using grounding and deep listening techniques, building on the siren pieces she composed for the Triennale.
The siren is an interesting instrument from both a technical and musical point of view. Old-school mechanical models, capable of producing glissandi by moving perforated metal plates, were first found in laboratories as test instruments. In Germany, since World War II, they became an instrument of mass communication and, more importantly, warned the population of air raids in wartime.
They also warned of other disasters such as chemical fires or floods. The wailing sound of the siren is alarming and haunting. The perception of the siren is not usually positive, much in keeping with its depiction in ancient mythology, where the siren is described as a mythical creature whose beguiling song lures passing sailors to kill her.
An often overlooked aspect of the siren or warning systems is that sirens also function as a measure of welfare. Sirens are installed for protection. A warning system that should increase our chances of survival. With this in mind, de Weijer introduces the local warning system as a tool for connection, embrace and comfort.
Angela de Weijer is a multidisciplinary artist, composer and DJ. A multi-perspective listening and thinking about the world as we know it is a consistent starting point in her practice. Artistic research and immersion in her current subject matter are an integral part of her work. In doing so, her subjects are sometimes large and dramatic and other times particular and minute.