TONSPUR for a public space
Sound works at MQ in Vienna
A project by Georg Weckwerth and Peter Szely

Karen Werner [US]*
HAUS, part I: Covenant of the Tongue, 2017
8-channel soundwork, 7-part series of images, radiowork
Duration 18:00 min
Concept, recordings, composition: Karen Werner
Voices: Hermine Jira, Yuval Katz-Wilfing, Karolina Konopka, Natalia Kubica,
Agata Leżuch, Paweł Mendrek, Patrycja Modrzyńska, Gabriela Palicka, Agata
Pawlik, Karen Werner, Hanna Woźniak, and der Sprechchor directed by Bruno
Production: TONSPUR Kunstverein Wien for the series
TONSPUR für einen öffentlichen raum
In collaboration with ORF Kunstradio, ORANGE 94.0, MAG3
Special thanks to Dr. Domagoj Akrap, Dr. Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek, Dr. Philipp
Mettauer, Paweł Kamiński, Yuval Katz-Wilfing, Bruno Pisek, Georg Salner,
Anna Maria Tatu (Supersense), Susanne Uslu-Pauer, Marion Werner,
Irma Wulz, Elisabeth Zimmermann.
*66. TONSPUR-Artist-in-Residence at Q21/MQ

TONSPUR_passage / Q21/MQ Wien
Museumsplatz 1, 1070 Vienna
Daily 10am to 8pm
Opening: Sun 03.12.2017, 5pm
Opening words:
Georg Weckwerth [artistic director TONSPUR Kunstverein Wien]
Felicitas Heimann-Jelinek [independent curator] – read

“HAUS”, part I: “Covenant of the Tongue” began as an inquiry into Karen Werner’s family’s house on Novaragasse in Vienna’s second district. Werner’s great-grandparents, grandparents, and many other relatives lived in the house for years. Beginning in 1939, Nazis took over this house as a “Judenhaus”, (also known as “Sammelwohnungen”), forcibly moving multiple Jewish families into the apartments before sending them to concentration camps. 221 people were deported and killed from this building on Novaragasse. A medium recently told Werner that the house is haunted.
As a way of responding to the destruction and violence enacted against people in the house, including several of her Jewish family members, Werner turns to Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical tradition. Werner finds in Kabbalah a source of deep and radical creativity, transformation, and self-definition, devoted to the very roots of world and consciousness formation, imagination, and art. Werner draws from an ancient Jewish text, “Sefer Yetzirah”, a foundational source for Kabbalists. “Sefer Yetzirah” is about the power of the breath, letter and word to form the world. Specific vocal meditations allow one to enter the building blocks of life through vibration. Through permutations of the sounded letters, one chisels and engraves the air. The utterance is a sensual, profoundly creative act through the portal of the mouth.
“HAUS”, part I: “Covenant of the Tongue” includes Psalms 34 and 121, offered to help souls in the house find peace. Throughout the piece, Werner chants vocal meditations from “Sefer Yetzirah”, some recorded at night inside the Novaragasse house. “HAUS”, part I: “Covenant of the Tongue” is episode 6 of Werner’s seven-episode radio project, “Strange Radio”, which explores issues of exile, grieving, the stranger and Holocaust postmemory in Vienna. “HAUS”, part II: “Zirkus” will be presented as the central piece in a group exhibition at gallery MAG3 in Vienna, opening on February 23, 2018.

Karen Werner, born in Pittsburgh PA, USA in 1967, lives and works in Montague MA, USA. 66. TONSPUR-Artist-in-Residence at Q21/MQ.

Design by Karen Werner —