book launch

Silent Whale Letters

A Long-Distance Correspondence on All Frequencies

With Kate Briggs, Ella Finer, Vibeke Mascini
Rijksakademie Reading Room, Amsterdam
Admission free, RVSP here

Silent Whale Letters is a long-distance correspondence responding to a "silent" archival document: the infrasound voice of a Blue Whale, the only inaudible sound recording that resides in the British Library. The book, a compilation of three years of conversations and correspondences between artists Vibeke Mascini and Ella Finer, intimately attuned to the infra voice of a blue whale, invites the reader to listen to other so-called "silent" bodies beyond sensorial human range. “A joint meditation on the transformative potential of a note, a voice, carried from saltwater into the archive” – Rebecca Briggs

During the book launch, Vibeke, Ella and writer/translator Kate Briggs will share insights into their engagement with this archival document and the many reflections towards envisioning it as a publication. The launch will include a sensorial installation, where the vibrational infra voice of the blue whale, central to their book, will fill the second floor of the Rijksakademie library and documental archive.

Ella Finer

Ella Finer’s work in sound and performance spans writing, composing, and curating with a particular interest in how women’s voices take up space; how bodies acoustically disrupt, challenge, or change occupations of space. Her research continuously queries the ownership of cultural expression through sound; often through collaborative projects centering listening as a practice of deep attention, affiliation and reciprocity. She is currently finishing her first monograph 'Acoustic Commons and the Wild Life of Sound', a work considering the inherent power in/of that which falls outside of administrative control – as a way of thinking through the sonic as critical agitator: how sound resists categorisation in the archive; how sound makes and disperses knowledge beyond the bounds of the institutional building.

Vibeke Mascini

Using fluid media including installation, sound, video and text, Vibeke Mascini explores the sensorial scaling of abstract phenomena, with the intention to seek agency from intimacy. In long-term collaboration with scientists, engineers, government employees, and musicians she proposes the development of a conscious understanding of electric energy as a statement of interconnectedness and entanglement – between species, between media and nature, between matter and energy. By exploring the complex relationship between source and user, and focusing on the material implications of unlikely sources from which electricity is derived (including a whale carcass, a melting glacier, confiscated cocaine, and human remains), Mascini proposes installations where memories and mysterious sensorial experiences meet the newest technology of the rapidly growing field of energy storage systems. Her earlier publications include 'The Dent of Walter Umenhofer' and 'Cloud Inverse', both independently published. Vibeke is a recent alumna (2021–2023) at the Rijksakademie.

Kate Briggs

Kate Briggs is a writer and French-to-English translator based in Rotterdam, where she co-runs the reading, writing and publishing project Short Pieces That Move! She is the author of 'This Little Art and The Long Form', both published by Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Artistic Ecologies

This presentation is part of the two-year project Artistic Ecologies: New Compasses, Tools and Alliances. A collaboration between the Rijksakademie, What, How & for Whom/WHW and Neue Nachbarschaft/Moabit. The project consists of a series of artistic and educational activities that examine art’s social placement in relation to what art can do to tackle the devastating effects of the eco-social crisis.


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