Soundtrack (statements of guilt)

Audio installation, 126 minutes looped, 2011

Taking the sound archives of the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (ICTY) in The Hague as the starting point, Soundtrack (Statements of Guilt) focuses on 20 confessions of guilt given before the court by the members of different sides in the conflict. Using the ICTY archiving tools, the work breaks these original recordings into standalone layers of tone, rhythm and melody transcribing them to a musical score. By using algorithmic processes to analyse voices, Soundtrack (Statements of Guilt) brings performative aspects of the court hearings and the concert to the same stage.

Each statement was written and read before the court. In the process of making the work, all these statements were transcribed from written and spoken word into composed and performed music. By doing so, Benjocki emphasises the performative aspect of the juridical system and its implications to the construction of history. The statement of guilt presents an opportunity for previously unknown information to be disclosed, often resulting in a reduction of sentence.

The existence of this juridical construction stands in part to support the technical and financial constraints of the court, as the last entry published to the ICTY website indicates (entry on July 14 2015):

“...guilty pleas are seen an important time and resource-saving tool which is particularly important given the ļ¬nancial and temporal constraints the Tribunal works under. Guilty pleas are also considered an invaluable litigation tool, as a plea agreement may involve the accused testifying against higher-ranking individuals, and can thereby help secure convictions against the most serious perpetrators. Also, guilty pleas may also spare witnesses from having to undergo the sometimes stressful experience of testifying in court. A guilty plea is usually considered by a Chamber as a mitigating circumstance leading to a reduction in the sentence a convicted person would otherwise have received.”

Soundtrack (Statements of Guilt) addresses the reciprocal alienation of voice and body from words and their context, and their complex relationship to how the trauma experienced in the countries of former Yugoslavia and the Netherlands.

Soundtrack (Statements of Guilt) was performed live by Leo Svirsky, a recording on Disklavier was made with assistance by Jeremiah Runnels