"If you blink, you'll miss it" - We Are Warriors @ Arnolfini

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By Ruby Griffiths, second year English

Ruby Griffiths checks out Arnolfini's installation celebrating 100 years of female suffrage.

If you blink, you’ll miss it. The darkroom on the second floor of the Arnolfini is a bit of a cupboard: one that you could open mindlessly and not realize that you’ve even looked in.

It is a room of light and sound created by Helen Cole, CEO and artistic director of In Between Time, the Live Programme at the Arnolfini. It is one room. It is a space that demands to be consumed, inhaled, and imbibed upon arrival. However, it really desires a slow ear to sit and wait.

It is not the creatively vacuous and predictable light installation that holds you in that black box, unless you are a child still fascinated by lights that string together in one. The sound, if you wait a little longer, is enough to sate.

"the sound installation very literally raises female voices and noises of existence"

Collected from 130 women and girls of Bristol Women’s institutes, wellbeing groups, prisons, and schools, the sound installation very literally raises female voices and noises of existence. Marking 100 years since the first sector of women were granted suffrage, the impact of women’s militant marching of feet, clapping of hands, and shifting of bodies reverberate within the contained space and within my mind still.

The layering of noises to create raw cacophonies, arresting audience members, was the piece’s main success. The familiarity of the audio, churning in a loop, works both for and against its power as the charged female voice crumples and collapses.

Most of the sound, including both the more unsettling and the more comforting noises, is not reflected in the space’s light. The lights, each bulb representing the individual women and girls who participated, are not as obvious in meaning as the audio, especially when it turned to a lullaby.

"the exhibit’s gust was undercut by the clash of the visual and auditory"

With the weight of the 100-year female suffrage landmark the exhibit’s gust was undercut by the clash of the visual and auditory. For it is not that the two should necessarily be harmonious but rather have some sort of interesting relation. Yet, for the great volume of female voices alone, it is worth lingering a little longer between the box doors on the second floor.

We Are Warriors is on at Arnolfini until the 16th of December. 12pm - 6pm. Free entry.

Feature image: Glen Tann


Been to see 'We Are Warriors'? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below or on social media.

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