Audio works

Le son-refuge (2019)

Duration: 20 min 48 sec

Two series of interviews were conducted in two cities, two years apart. About fifteen people met with Chantal to talk about their perception of sound. By means of a personal narrative, each person described how sound can act as a refuge in certain circumstances.

Recordings were made with the participation of:
Rémy Bélanger de Beauport, Gabrielle Bouthillier, and Guylaine Coderre in Avatar’s studio, Quebec City, in 2018 and DinahBird, Antoine Chao, Amaury da Cunha, Léa Minod, and Carole Rieussec at Les Récollets, a studio-residency managed by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and located in the 10th arrondissement of Paris, in 2016.

Improvisation around and in the piano of Avatar’s studio: Frédéric Lebrasseur and Chantal Dumas, in 2018.

Imperfect Breath (2019)

Duration: 8 min 40 sec

JOKER (2019)

Duration: 8 min 42 sec

expédition (2019)

Duration: 10 min 3 sec

Notes on the artists

Anna Friz

Since 1998, Anna Friz has been creating predominantly self-reflexive radio for broadcast, installation, or performance, where radio is the source, subject, and medium of the work.

Céline Huyghebaert

Céline Huyghebaert makes work that oscillates between visual art and literature. Using language as her primary tool, she tries to rectify history’s silences and omissions.

Erin Sexton

Erin Sexton is an artist who explores alternate paradigms, strange topologies, soft apocalypses, and speculative cosmologies. Her work involves found objects, tarpaulin, rope, textiles, crystallization, and radio transmission.

Carole Rieussec

Carole Rieussec is an electroacoustic artist and performer. Since 1986, she has been composing work with the noises, voices, and rhythms of the world. On the stage, she creates improbable sonic spaces.

Open Windows


Published in two volumes, one in print and the other online, the publication Dialogues with Chantal Dumas invites readers and listeners to discover the work of Chantal Dumas. As a sound artist who has been associated with Avatar since 1994, she was part of Ding Dong deluxe, the very first CD put out by the OHM Éditions label, which subsequently also released Les Chantal Dumas and Le parfum des femmes. The various dialogues in this publication offer a close and in-depth look at the composer’s practice, the particular characteristics of radio art, and its position in the broader field of sound art.

Transmission and Listening Context

Transmission and listening context are the words that really made an impression on me in my initial conver­sations with Dumas. On the one hand, I was interested in sound and its potential as an artistic language; on the other hand, I discovered the key role that radio as a creative space had in the history of sound art as well as in the artist’s development. During one of our conversations, Dumas remembered an alcove in an apartment she stayed in while in Marseilles, which became a special space for her. She described the alcove as a specific place, a listening context in which, thanks to the transmission of sound waves, she could imagine the co-existence of places, strangers and the lives they led, simultaneous tempo­ralities, and images shaped by the sounds circulating there. These sounds penetrated the intangible, traced carto­graphies and sketched inter­actions, bore stories or transmitted knowledge.

Opening the Windows

I’ve often heard Dumas use the metaphor of “open windows” to describe her work. I imagine the composer’s creative methods as movements that generate other movements and that offer us different perspectives for understanding the world, that encourage us to listen and to recognize that unlikely universes can sometimes make contact. Opening the window means allowing a way through. As Mario Gauthier wrote to Dumas in an email exchange, this is “because you give us just part of what can be perceived.”

“Open Window” is also the title of a poem by Victor Hugo, who likewise evokes and stimulates our sense of hearing. By taking one of the many routes that this project opened up, I was pleased to discover this poem, which begins with the words I hear.

Volume 1: Le son-refuge

Then there was the theme of “refuge,” based on which Dumas had already sketched some ideas, conducted interviews. While an artist-in-residence at Avatar in the fall of 2018, she also rediscovered the piano, which was akin to reconnecting with an old friend whom we haven’t seen in a long time. Everything was in place for the creation of a new work: Le son-refuge. We then invited other artists to get involved and become part of the dialogue.

Delighted to collaborate, Anna Friz, Carole Rieussec, and Erin Sexton satisfied our desire that this project would provide a pretext for creation, and we produced three original works, all of which resonate with Dumas’s art. Anna Friz composed a piece based on two past recordings, which she considers fundamental to her development. Erin Sexton used a performative mode to explore, as she often does, the question of signal transmission by placing herself in the position of a transmitter and even more particularly, a receiver. Carole Rieussec created a sound work using a selection of speaking voices that evoke the walking body seeking refuge from exile and imagination seeking an anchor in the present.

Speech, the sound of the voice, runs throughout Dumas’s work and is an aspect that strongly resonates with Céline Huyghebaert, who has made it a thread of a creative piece of writing that echoes the audio works produced for this publication.

In addition, this volume includes a selection of seventeen works by Dumas, created between 1993 and 2017 and accompanied by notes, which offer various tracks of reading and listening, or vice versa.

Volume 2: Radio Art and Sound Art

Putting Dumas’s work into perspective also means spanning an era during which the mediums and their accessibility changed often. First of all, this is precisely what Avatar sought to explore by inviting the artist to participate in this publication. “The question of what area of sound I was asked to work with—web, radio, theatre, documentary—is interesting at this moment. Yet, in my case, does the area even make a difference?” Today, broadcasting and listening largely pass through the web, and the modes of publication and reception have changed considerably. Dumas: “I wonder how the transformation of transmission and listening affect writing about radio art. Are we still talking about radio? Would sound production be a more suitable term?”

We asked six Canadian and European experts such questions about various forms of “sound writing.” They rose to the challenge by offering texts that examine Dumas’s work, focusing on certain aspects that stand out, and broadening their analysis to consider creation openly. These texts—several essays—are collected in the publication’s second volume, titled Radio Art and Sound Art. Étienne Noiseau presents an overview of Dumas’s major works. Mario Gauthier reflects on radio by analyzing Le son-refuge. A text by Hélène Prévost evokes the scope of the artist’s production and the context in which her practice has evolved. A testimonial by Frédéric Dallaire addresses the notion of perception while implicitly looking at the question of collaboration. By analyzing the work Tanz, Serge Cardinal considers sound as material, as that which gives form and creates movement and space. Lastly, Golo Föllmer has written a text based on a recent interview conducted with the artist that examines the role of installation, sound, and interactivity in her practice.

In essence, Dialogues with Chantal Dumas is a complex work in which, for Chantal Dumas, sound is a fully fledged artistic language that has the potential to redefine reality.

but water





“A click
of the tongue.”


In the novel I am reading, the heroine is deaf, and what scares her the most is when a hand reaches up from behind to touch her shoulder. She imagines how many times the person called out to her before making the gesture, and it reminds her of all that eludes her. When I picture this scene, I see a woman walking on the sidewalk; some children are playing ball in front of her; cars are parked along the street; and behind her, everything is obscured, muffled, odourless. It's just like the past in Stephen King's The Langloiers: as soon as the heroine turns her back on the world, the world is obliterated, devoured by giant mouths with chainsaw-like teeth.


“All day long, she made this sound.
This clicking.”


I’ve considered it at length, and I can’t think of a sound that only makes me feel good. I really like the crunch of fresh snow under my feet, rain falling on a metal or glass roof, leaves rustling in a tree, waves lapping the sand. I’ve also liked my neighbour since she started playing Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major. Every time she makes a mistake, instead of figuring out the difficult passage, her fingers glide from the last missed note to a simpler song, which she plays with agility for a few seconds before going back to the sonata. I secretly hope that she will never completely master the rhythm of this piece, so that I can keep enjoying her improvised mix.


I wonder what
kind of
information is
contained in
a note.


In my grandmother’s living room, the sideboard was piled up with knick-knacks. We would grab the conch shell, brought back from some trip, and hold it close to our ears, trying to hear the sea. I only heard buzzing, not the waves, certainly not the backwash of the sea crashing against the dike. Yet in a timid voice, I would claim the opposite to hide my inability.


My own voice is no shelter. When I hear it on a recording, I cringe. In my intonations, I only hear the complacent girl, eager to please, so eager that she completely dissolves in the opinions of others. She leaves the end of her sentences unfinished so that they can continue and complete them. When they laugh, she laughs like them, mechanically.


Do people in our dreams speak with their real voices? My friend Hélène told me that there are no words in dreams, that we only add them in once awake. One time, I dreamt that I was in the middle of a dense, lush jungle with my father. He picked up a plank of wood and carved a word into it with a knife. Then he turned the plank towards me and told me that it was the key to his life. When I woke up, I couldn’t remember the word. I could only picture an awkward drawing of a trailer sketched on a board. If what Hélène says is true, what are conversations composed of in dreams? Grunts? Bellows?


1. Silence. 2. Unwillingness or refusal to speak, although the mechanism of speech is not damaged. 3. Characteristic of something that does not provide any clarification regarding a particular subject or question.


When we speak of those who are “voiceless,” we are thinking of people who have been expelled from the collective memory. They breathe, eat, sleep; they walk, sit down, go up and down stairs, but they do it without making a sound. We also call them invisible or anonymous. Marielle Macé writes that refugees lead “lives that get lost on the margins of our own lives.” In reading this, I can’t help but compare them to words that are on the tip of the tongue. Somewhat like the refugees, these words, forgotten yet resurfacing to impose themselves on us, are terribly uncomfortable.


We also say
“taking refuge in silence” so as not to say “closing oneself off in silence.”


When you hold a shell or an empty cup against your ear, the object acts as a resonance chamber. The ambient noise bounces against the interior surface until it becomes deafening. Underwater, noise rarely hits obstacles. It travels so quickly that it reaches both eardrums almost simultaneously. This is why we are afraid underwater: we don’t know from which direction the danger approaches.


During the summer of 1997, American scientists made several recordings of a mysterious, ultra-low frequency sound coming from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. They nicknamed it “the Bloop.” If an animal had caused this noise, it would be gigantic, larger than the biggest marine mammal, since no known species is able to produce a sound of such amplitude that it would be detected by a device at a distance of over five thousand kilometres.


Ever since doctors placed a mechanical valve inside my sister’s body, her heartbeats are like the tick-tock of a watch. (I hear it when I sit beside her.)


“It lasted a day, then it passed.” A woman said this about a small clicking of the tongue that she needed to do to begin a particularly difficult mourning process. The need passed, not the mourning.


We also speak of clicking in reference to the metallic sound of halyards slamming against masts on windy days, as though they had something to tell us.


Perhaps our body understands these jerking sounds as a language, a kind of Morse code that the body decodes but cannot translate into words. (Or we hear in these metallic conversations the spectral voices that Thomas Edison so fervently wanted to record.)


“I talk to myself
in the hope that
I will be heard.”


Edison was convinced that once people die, their spirits disperse into the ether in infinitesimal metaphysical particles. At the time, it was already known that an entire conversation could be translated by dots and lines, then transmitted using electrical pulses. It was also known that a voice could travel along a sound conduit. Edison patented the phonograph in 1877. Yet this machine was only one stage of his research. He dreamt of one day inventing an amplification mechanism powerful enough to project much more than music into a room: he wanted to make the particles of wandering souls perceptible. He devoted the last twenty years of his life to creating his “necrophone,” but he never succeeded in giving a voice back to the dead.


In the United States, the last person sentenced to death who did not get the right to choose between lethal injection and the electric chair for her execution is Lynda Lyon Block. She died on May 10, 2002 in Alabama. Edison didn’t fail in this invention. (Between 1924 and 1999, thirteen American states also legalized the use of the gas chamber for the death penalty.)


Although I thought for a long time that I had lost all mementoes of my father, my cousins sent me some digitized excerpts of films shot in 16 mm on which he appeared. I opened the first file and recognized my father’s figure in the background, among a group of people dancing. He wore bell-bottoms and a pale-yellow, tapered shirt. His hair was long and curly. The screen went dark. Then the image reappeared grainy and dust-spotted. My father’s face was in the foreground. His mouth opened and closed several times. I pressed rewind and played the same sequence again, convinced that if I succeeded in reading my father’s lips, I would probably remember his voice. I would never be able to reproduce this voice, but I would hear it in my mind, the way we hear a tune that we know by heart.


“Of course, the voice
is not the person
who will never return.”


If I had recalled his voice, perhaps I would have missed his scent, the texture of his skin, or the conversations that we would never have.


(I feel that my boundaries are clearer when people use my first name when speaking to me. Yet this rarely happens. Except for my boyfriend. “Céline, please take the garbage out.” “Céline, I love you.” In the mouth of a loved one, this name is reliable, like a natural shelter, no matter the circumstances.)


Perhaps the one who calls me by my name is precious to me because he recognizes me. He recognizes my face and always associates it with the same sound.


I like to think of the inside of a piano as a remote place, a kind of desert island where sounds are sheltered. In an exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, visitors simply needed to press a key on the piano to hear Leonard Cohen’s voice come out of one of the hundred speakers connected to it. Most visitors pressed as many keys as possible at the same time, the way children do in front of a piano, and we would hear a cacophony of obscure words. Yet some used the piano as a machine for invoking oracles: they pressed a key to receive a message from the singer. Edison would have definitely liked this machine.


The refuge is a self-contained space,
“a kind of room where all sounds resonate.”


There is a piano in the entrance hall of our apartment. It’s the first thing that children notice when they come in. At the beginning of the evening, their parents are convinced that the piano is a godsend, that it will keep the children busy and allow us to quietly talk in the living room. But we’ve never seen a child obey the rule of playing calmly, touching the keys gently.


Underwater, we can hear volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, waves, wind, boats, glaciers calving, whale calls, and the movement of marine animals. Remarkably, we can also hear airplanes flying above the sea.


All songs
that we know
by heart
are refuges.

The Celine Huyghebaert's text contains references to the following works or documents listed in order of appearance:

Véronique Sanson,
“Rien que de l’eau”, 1992

Dictionary of the Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales

Carole Rieussec, JOKER, 2019

Mathieu Simonet,
Anne-Sarah K., 2019

Stephen King,
The Langoliers, 1990

Chantal Dumas,
Le son-refuge, 2019

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Piano Sonata No. 18 in D major, 1789

Georges Perec,
L’Infra-ordinaire, 1989

Marielle Macé,
Sidérer, considérer.
Migrants en France
, 2017

Emmanuel Perrin, 
“Le ‘Bloop,’ un mystérieux son venu de l’océan qui a longtemps intrigué les chercheurs”, 2015

Erin Sexton, expédition, 2019

Philippe Baudouin,
“Les voix fantomatiques de Philippe Baudouin”, 2018


Ryōko Sekiguchi,
La Voix sombre, 2015

Anna Friz,
Imperfect Breath, 2019

Giorgio Agamben,
Nudities, 2010

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Leonard Cohen,
A Crack in Everything
, 2017–2018

Le souffle court

Le souffle court (2017)
Radio performance by Frédéric Dallaire and Chantal Dumas
Duration: 15 min 27 sec

In Le souffle court, listening is rhythmically transformed by the motion and speed of a runner in the background. The work involves a physical and mental journey around a running track, punctuated by a voice that, although out of breath, tries to describe a state of the body and mind.

This performance was presented as part of Radio dehors : une phonographie du monde, organized by the Canada Research Chair in Sound Dramaturgy in the École supérieur de théâtre at the Université de Québec (Chicoutimi).

86400 Seconds

86400 Seconds – Time Zones (2015)
Participative sound work created by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 50 min

86400 Seconds – Time Zones uses the human voice to suggest the passage of time. The title of the work refers to the number of seconds in a day. They are counted off, second by second, by one hundred and thirty-eight people aged from eight to eighty-five, in thirty-two languages and dialects. In each time zone crossed, the density of the population on that part of the Earth’s surface determines the number of voices heard.

This work was commissioned by Julie Shapiro for the program Soundproof (ABC Radio National’s Creative Audio Unit, Sydney, Australia) and by the Centre en art actuel Sporobole (Sherbrooke, Canada). Thank you to the time-counters for their enthusiastic performance!

40° Nord - 73° West

40° Nord – 73° West (2012)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 49 min

To John Cage, New York City was both residence and laboratory. In this work, Chantal Dumas follows in the composer’s tracks all across the city, combining found soundscapes from sites where Cage was active with sounds produced by his favourite instruments: piano, voice, turntables, and percussion. Dumas also draws inspiration from certain compositional processes used by Cage, such as mesostics and graphic scores. She therefore uses the city’s subway map to create a graphic score to guide musicians in their improvisations.

Commissioned by Marcus Gammel for the program Klangkunst, this work was first shown at the Cage 100 Project and produced by Deutschlandfunk Kultur (Berlin, Germany). Its creation was supported by the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and inspired by time spent at the Québec Studio in New York City.

[Voice: Shelley Hirsch
Turntables: Martin Tétreault]

The Piano Tuning

The Piano Tuning (2010)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 14 min 20 sec
Language: English

The Piano Tuning involves the tuning of a piano, a five-room apartment, and a voice. A story evolves, and things happen in it that wouldn’t happen anywhere else. The work evokes listening while revelling in the acoustics of the site.

Commissioned by Marcus Gammel and produced by Deutschlandfunk Kultur (Berlin, Germany) for Klangkunst, a radio program broadcast by the latter.

Les petits riens

Les petits riens – mécaniques du quotidien (2009-2010)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 31 min

Les petits riens are those discreet sounds, those songs too soft to pay attention to, so usual that we scarcely notice them. They could be sound bites that emerge at times from the past and bounce around in our heads, or frequencies of noise that sneak into our ears and which we alone hear. These sounds might be the buzzing of insect wings or the drones and clicks of our technicized environments. Like a cabinet of curiosities, Les petits riens brings together a collection of “sound objects,” with a penchant for the anomalous and unexpected. By re-thinking the organizational logic of sounds, the work deconditions our listening habits. Creating shifts in reality, it brings to light a poetic rhythm in everyday life that, until now, has most likely escaped us.

Commissioned by Marcus Gammel and produced by Deutschlandfunk Kultur (Berlin, Germany) for Klangkunst, a radio program broadcast by the latter.

Marseille 1993

Marseille 1993 (2008)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 6 min 40 sec

In 1993, the Olympique de Marseille football team was a European champion, Pavarotti sang at the Marseilles opera house, and Chantal Dumas made her home in the city. It was a time before cell phones, which makes Marseille 1993 a kind of “retro-sci-fi-documentary.”

Produced by Radio Grenouille (Marseilles, France), the work was commissioned by Étienne Noiseau for the series Coming & Going – Ends & Entries.

Jouer avec le feu

Jouer avec le feu (2006)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 6 min 5 sec

Beats, breaths, crackles, pulses—so many signs of life and death, so many sounds that arise, propagate, then vanish. Each sound is a fiction.

Commissioned by SilenceRadio, a shared radio listening space (Brussels, Belgium), the work uses samples from the Freesound collaborative database, in particular those uploaded by Acutescream, Cfork, Emmanuel, Fonogeno, Greyseraphim, Jovica, Cyril Laurier, Laedy, Luffy, Lunardrive, Suonho, and Victor Cenusa.


Tanz (2005)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 50 min
Languages: German and English

Tanz is a choreography conceived for the ear. Using words and sounds, alternating points of view, and varying scales, this exercise in transcription is a record of multiple bodily states. It is a manifold expression of the dancer’s work and the spaces in which it takes place.

Commissioned by Götz Naleppa for the program Werkstatt and produced by Deutschlandfunk Kultur (Berlin, Germany), the work was created from the text of coït by Chantal Neveu (Éditions La Peuplade, Saguenay, 2010). The production of this work was also supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Montréal Danse.

[Turntables and prepared surfaces: Martin Tétreault
Saxophones: André Leroux
With the participation of Andreas Lange and dancers Karsten Kroll, Carol Prieur, Anna Riede, and Peter Trosztmer, who lent their voices to the project]

Documents de surface

Documents de surface (2002)
Sound work by Christian Calon and Chantal Dumas
Duration: 52 min

Minimal and hyperrealist, Documents de surface slides the way a camera in extreme close-up might glide across the surface of the Earth or on the contrary, across vast panoramas; in other words, wherever anecdote dissolves into sonic material.

Commissioned by Robert Matejka for the program Künstlerisches Feature, this work was produced by DeutschlandRadio (known today as “Deutschlandfunk Kultur,” Berlin, Germany).

Documents de surface was recorded and released on CD as part of the CD box set radio roadmovies.

In the Pale Grey Days

In the Pale Grey Days / In den Fahlen Grauen Tagen (German version) (2002)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 27 min
Languages: English and French

To Manfred Mixner
In the Pale Grey Days focuses on the character of Gaby, whose childhood was spent in New York with her mother, Zab, who dreamed of becoming an actress. Now in her sixties, Gaby wanders alone around the port of Montreal at night. Overpowered by memories, she gradually revisits her childhood.

Commissioned by Manfred Mixner for the program Internationale Digitale Radiokunst and produced by the Sender Freies Berlin (Germany). Created with the support of Andreas Hagelüken, Anne-Marie and Donald, Fortner Anderson, Ned Bouhalassa, and Christian Calon.

[Original idea, script, direction: Chantal Dumas
Dialogues: Geneviève Letarte
English translation: Alison Lee Strayer
Art: Tom Walsh
Gaby as an adult: Catherine Kidd
Gaby as a child: Terra Léger-Goodes
Zab (mother): Élisabeth Lenormand
Man: Bernard Schütze
Trombone: Tom Walsh
With the voices of Langston Hughes and Geneviève Letarte, and the music of George Gershwin, Jay Jay Johnson, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk]

many many places

many many places (2001)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 12 min 40 sec

To France
many many places probes the acoustics of Montreal public buildings via the rhythms of the sapatiada, a jig originally from Brazil. As a study on point of view, the work raises questions about what a microphone lets us hear. Here, the microphone is active: it follows the dancers as they move from one spot to another; it moves with them. It am­pli­fies tenuous traces and captures the acoustic footprint left in spaces by the dancers as they pass. The play between the various layers of sound highlights the colour of spaces brought to life by human presence.

Created with support from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and from PRIM (Montreal, Canada), the work was commissioned by the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago for the Outer Ear Festival of Sound. Support from Alain Dessureault and France Pepin also played a role in its creation.

Le petit homme dans l’oreille

Le petit homme dans l’oreille (2000)
Sound work by Christian Calon and Chantal Dumas
Duration: 57 min

July 9 – September 9, 1999
20,000 km along the highways and byways of Canada.
From Montreal and across the Prairies up to the Arctic Circle in the Yukon, then down to the Pacific, and returning through the Badlands. Filled with sound equipment, tools, DAT tapes, tent, Coleman stove, sleeping bags, kitchen utensils, spare tire, beer, camera, boots, books, and road maps, the Mercury minivan took to the road.

Commissioned by Mario Gauthier for the program L’espace du son, the work was produced by the Chaîne culturelle de Radio-Canada (Montreal, Canada). Support from Rob Dramer, Lillian Ireland, and Mike Krutko also contributed to the creation of this sonic journey, as did the many anonymous voices that inspired it.

Le petit homme dans l’oreille was recorded and released on CD as part of the CD box set radio roadmovies.

Abécéd’hiver ou Winterwörterbuch

Abécéd’hiver ou Winterwörterbuch (1998)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 21 min 35 sec
Languages: German and French

“My country is not a country, it’s winter,” sang Gilles Vigneault, Quebec’s national poet. All Quebecers agree that winter is a season that goes on interminably. But this is another story. What is winter? Aside from cold and snow, it’s the frustration of being cooped up for months, cars that won’t start in the morning, frozen pipes, trees broken by freezing rain, the flu, the February blues, snow that needs shovelling in the yard, and slush-soaked feet. Those who revel in winter talk of the magic of the first flakes, the invigorating cold, the exhilaration of skiing and its effects, the atmosphere of a snowstorm immobilizing the city, modifying acoustics, swaddling sound, and the tranquillity of the forest, ice fishing, the crunch of footsteps in icy snow. Winter is a little of all of this, one way or another. With humour, this alphabet of twenty-six key words tells of the Quebec winter, revealing the rebellious spirit of Quebecers and the universe they inhabit.

The work was commissioned by Manfred Mixner for the program Internationale Digitale Radiokunst and produced by the Sender Freies Berlin channel (Germany). Support from Giuseppe Samona, Ned Bouhalassa, Christian Calon, Martin Daske, Maria Grote, and Claude Schryer also contributed to its creation.

[Concept, direction, music, texts, and recordings: Chantal Dumas. Child: Mikaela Fabijan Radford. With the voices of Dulcinée Langfelder and Heinz Becker. Piano: Yves Léveillé.]

Le parfum des femmes

Le parfum des femmes (1996-1997)
Audio fiction collection by Chantal Dumas
Total duration of the three works: 52 min 32 sec

Comprised of three audio works on the theme of migration, conceived over the course of a long stay in Europe, Le parfum des femmes is an “audio fiction collection.” Dumas: “If it weren’t for this trip, I wouldn’t have thought of focusing on migration. You have to be in the midst of things and experience them in order to become sensitive to them… It is in this context that I learned the meaning of the word ‘foreigner’ and what it harbours: the absence of cultural references, a keen awareness of one’s own identity, an ambivalent feeling of strength and vulnerability.” In Le parfum des femmes, the sayable emerges through perception. Meaning is conveyed by an interweaving of sounds that give rise to images which the listener is free to interpret and appropriate. Three women improvisers are associated with these stories: Sylvia, Joëlle, and Shelley–three fabulous migratory birds with very finely honed sensibilities.

Le parfum des femmesPart One

Le parfum des femmes,
Part One:
Migration océane / Ozeanische Wanderung (German version) (1996)
Duration: 18 min 36 sec

In Migration océane / Ozeanische Wanderung, the migration of cold Atlantic currents is paralleled with the journey of a woman leaving Europe to return to the South American continent.

[Text: Chantal Dumas
Translation: Rolf Lohse and Harald Brandt
Voices: Silvia Ocougne and Falilou Seck
Guitars: Silvia Ocougne
Additional music: The 13th Tribe]

Le parfum des femmesPart Two

Le parfum des femmes,
Part Two:
L’ailleurs (1996)
Duration: 19 min 30 sec

L’ailleurs evokes the psychological state of migrants. Each character on the move is, at one point or another in their journey, under the influence of the wind, which is insidiously incarnated in a woman’s features. The work explores our desire for elsewhere by parodying it.

[Nomads: Akel Akian, Djelali, and Maryam
Enslaved person: Philippe Riéra
Hide-and-seek pair: Nada Laukamm-Josten and Louise With the participation of Shelley Hirsch (multiple voices)]

Le parfum des femmesPart Three

Le parfum des femmes,
Part Three:
Les frontières (1997)
Duration: 14 min 26 sec
Languages: German, English, and French

Points of passage. Stopping points. Borders. While globalization increasingly links economies and communications, geopolitical borders are closing. To migrants, they’ve become veritable fortresses. Four stories, four situations, four countries are highlighted here: Germany, Algeria, Switzerland, and Mexico.

The testimonies heard in this work concern lived experience. Guy Bettini is a musician from the Italian speaking part of Switzerland who divides his time between Locarno and Berlin. Manuella Eickenroth was freed in 1981 when West Germany paid for the release of political prisoners from the East. The Algerian, Mohamed Magini, was welcome in Berlin as a political refugee. Osvaldo Rivera is an alias, his story inspired by articles published in the New York Times in 1983 and 1995.

[Voices: Guy Bettini, Manuella Eickenroth, Hawad, Antonio Jimenez, Mohamed Magini, Holder Mandel, and the muezzins of Sanaa (Yemen)
With the participation of Joëlle Léandre (double bass)]

The collection Le parfum des femmes was composed in the Blue Moose Studio, Berlin. Commissioned by Manfred Mixner for the program Internationale Digitale Radiokunst, Migration océane / Ozeanische Wanderung and L’ailleurs were produced by Sender Freies Berlin (Germany). Les frontières was produced by DeutschlandRadio (Berlin, Germany) and commissioned by Götz Naleppa for the program Werkstatt. Many other institutions and people also contributed to the creation of the three works: The Canada Council for the Arts, Folkmar Hein and the Technische Universität Elektronisches Studio (Berlin, Germany), l’Institut français in Berlin (Germany), the gmem-CNCM-marseille (France), Clarisse Cossais, Schneider, and Nathalie Singer.

Les Chantal Dumas

Les Chantal Dumas (1994)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 13 min
Language: French

Les Chantal Dumas recounts a search that the artist started upon reading Gertrude Stein who wrote something like: “It’s the name that makes us what we are.” On the pro­­cess that led to the production of this work, the composer adds: “I was busy trying to erase every trace of my name, you know, the name that sticks to your skin for life just like a birthmark, when I came across this sentence. So I decided to find my homonyms. Even today, I wonder who these women are who sign their name with the same twelve letters as I do.”

Commissioned by Avatar, an artist-run audio and electronic arts centre, the work was created in Berlin’s Blue Moose Studio and in the gmem-CNCM-marseille studio. Creation of this piece was made possible by the many Chantal Dumas who accepted to take part, and by the participation of Dominique Brau and Clarisse Cossais, among others.

The Show of… / le spectacle des habil(i)etés

The Show of… / le spectacle des habil(i)etés (1994)
Sound work by Chantal Dumas
Duration: 15 min 32 sec
Languages: English and French

Dedicated to three adven­turers: Claude, Christian, and Patrick The artist describes how she created the work: “For the umpteenth time, I was listening to a sound recorded at a party in the Czech Republic with electronic sound artists from Eastern Europe, trying to figure out how to use the sequence in a radio production. I found the answer to my questions when CC gave me access to his ‘sound museum.’ I chose recordings from it that, together, might constitute a narrative framework which I could intermingle with another one. Story cohesion and ways to create continuity from multiple sounds recorded on different media then absorbed my attention. A thorough search followed, through which I found the elements for the scripted collage that is The Show of….” Realistic and magical, The Show of… features two disparate worlds that meet through a loon’s mythical call.

The work was created in the gmem-CNCM-marseille studio. The support of Christian Calon, in particular, contributed to its creation. Thank you to the talented characters who contributed to this work without realizing it!

[Music: Bratsch (“Er Nemo Klantz”)]

La tour du vent

La tour du vent (1993)
Sound work by Harald Brandt and Chantal Dumas
Duration: 12 min

La tour du vent is Marseilles. Its wind and its voices. Its noises: motorcycles, cars, fragments of songs, sails that flap in the wind, pontoons creaking in the harbour. The spicy texture of “exotic” materials, whose traces we believe we hear in the Phocaean city, seem to wink at the listener-traveller. And words! Words of wind, on the wind, in the wind. Words that recount stories, memories, fears, moments of happiness, legends, in short, all the magic that is wind, breath, speech. The wind, elusive and ephemeral, is the master musician here. Marseilles is the instrument that it plays, and the architecture is the body where its notes resound. The strings that vibrate in the wind are languages, languages of all the countries that have build this city over time.

Chantal Dumas and Harald Brandt won the first radio art competition organized by La Muse en Circuit (Alfortville, France) and SACEM (Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) for La tour du vent. Support from the entire team at La Muse en Circuit – Centre National de Création Musicale (CNCM) made creation of this work possible.

Dialogues avec / with Chantal Dumas

Volume 1:
Le son-refuge

This publication was produced with the participation of:

  • Publication editor:
    • Caroline Gagné
  • Authors:
    • Caroline Gagné
    • Céline Huyghebaert
  • English translation of the original French texts:
    • Oana Avasilichioaei
  • Copy editing of French texts:
    • Valérie Litalien
  • Proofreading:
    • Judy Quinn
    • Jack Stanley
  • Artists:
    • Chantal Dumas
    • Anna Friz
    • Carole Rieussec
    • Erin Sexton
  • Digital mastering:
    • Thierry Gauthier
  • Graphic design:
  • Web programming and content integration:

Publishing and distribution:
Avatar, association de création et de diffusion sonores et électroniques
541, rue De Saint-Vallier Est, bureau 562, Québec
(Québec) G1K 3P9
418 522-8918

Legal deposit:
Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, 2019
Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, 2019
ISBN 978-2-920512-26-9
(édition imprimée)
ISBN 978-2-920512-25-2

© Avatar, the artists,
the authors, 2019

All rights reserved –
Printed in Canada

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