(Folkestone Fringe 2011)

Buenos Aires based Juan José Calarco has long shown his extra perceptive talents.Whatever becomes the subject of his sound art, once reinterpreted, seems to exude its true essence & evanescent properties.

Not a lot can pretend grasping the intangible with such aplomb. Blowing new life in his meticulous audio-compositions is certainly another of his strong points, as those tell an ever morphing story propitious to meet the abstract circumvolutions of our wandering minds, and to equally feed our senses.

For this specific work with International Lighthouse Relay as global title, and commissioned by the Folkestone Fringe, an artists’ collective, about 40 artists have tried to approach under different angles the significance of Lighthouses.

Juan José Calarco dwelled for several days on the Quequén lighthouse located on the South Atlantic Coast, examining how it fitted into its immediate environment, its impact on the landscape, and how it functioned as a space of its own. The highly symbolic figure of the lighthouse is seen as the last/first link with earth, but also with the horizon & the sea. Evoking the classic foursome (air, water, earth, fire), often isolated on islets or inhospitable shores, relic of a past world, its solitude sparks mystical feelings…

Shining like a star under an inky night, its hermetic tower hosts generally a spiraling stairwell and is an ode to vertigo…

Sonically encapsulating the experience, the about 14 mins sound piece available for streaming here covers all aspects of a complex symbol. Starting with the noise of wind within the structure, one bumps into the metal stairwell which starts to sing & resonate…an halo of faint voices & chirping birds floats in the background…at this point, inside & outside seem already to have merged naturally. A heavy door opens and creaks, bursting into a strange reverberating chant…metallic scrapings become a sort of giant lingering hum, similar to long resonating tones of a singing bowl, reaching an almost deafening climax, then quieter moments reemerge, punctuated by objectal din & weather interferences…we imagine spray fluttering, water dripping, lapping against eroded stones, waves crashing, and an anonymous lighthouse keeper slowly climbing the stairs, animating the edifice…

Like a sponge, Juan José Calarco has soaked everything up, appropriating moments beyond words, inviting us nimbly to a psychogeographic lesson & elemental celebration…

-Daniel Crokaert

Juan José Calarco website
Folkestone Fringe website
Folkestone Fringe International Lighthouse Sound Relay website

Daniel Crokaert

Label manager at Mystery Sea, Unfathomless