Occupying an entire office floor on Folkestone's Sandgate Road, Smadar Dreyfus' audiovisual installation immersed the visitor in documentary recordings of 7 lessons and a school break from mainstream schools in central Israel*: History, Geography, Biology, Arabic, Bible Studies, Citizenship and Literature.
Voices, once firmly rooted within and through the institutions of education, become disembodied in Dreyfus' work and then refigured to other ends. 'School' captured not only the fragmentary process of teaching and learning but also opened a space where the social and the textual coincide. There were grand narratives here of nation and history as well as small but significant acts of rebellion, expressions of character, a culture of disputation, and topical issues that testify to the historical time of the recordings. With the acousmatic rendering of these voices another type of image emerges, each lesson a mis-en-scène, a social microcosm.
Following on from Dreyfus’ large-scale audiovisual installations 'Lifeguards' (2005) and 'Mother’s Day' (2006-08), 'School' was a continuation of her investigation into the subliminal and implicit expression of the voice and its affect in public and socially contested spaces.
*From the recordings Dreyfus selected and edited a small sample of lessons that resonate with each other to form a sense of the varied curriculum. The content of each lesson is random, depending on the time and date of the recording, and the subject range on the day.
**Acousmatic sound is sound one hears without seeing its originating cause. The word acousmatic, from the French acousmatique, is derived from ἀκουσματικοί akousmatikoi, a term used to refer to probationary pupils of the philosopher Pythagoras who, so that they might better concentrate on his teachings, were required to sit in absolute silence while listening to their teacher deliver his lecture from behind a veil or screen. The term was first used by the French composer, Pierre Schaeffer (1966).