Viral Silence

Community Portraits in Response to Covid-19 

Free Public Programming Calendar
all events live-streamed and in person

Adaptive Response – June 12, 2021, 7pm
Carbondale Community Arts, 304 W Walnut Street, Carbondale, IL 62901

Ground/Work – June 19, 2021, 4pm
DIY Sound Workshop at 2:30pm
Club 21 Community Garden, 90th and Loomis, Chicago, IL 60620

Champaign County, March 2020 and Counting – June 30, 2021, 7–10pm
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

Viral Silence: Conversations with Three Illinois Communities – July 7, 7–8:30pm
Sounds Like Community live-stream
Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center, 202 S Broadway Ave, Urbana, IL 61801

About Viral Silence

Viral Silence is a statewide collaborative community commissioning and virtual touring program that captures local experiences and responses to Covid-19. Three Illinois artists/teams were commissioned in the fall of 2020 to create and present sound portraits of their communities. Since then they have been working and collaborating with their communities—collecting recorded and live sound, poetry, and interviews—and holding workshops within their communities. This month their original audio/performance works are presented in a virtual tour within the community and live-streamed across the state.

Creative artists and the cultural sector have been especially adversely affected economically by the pandemic. Viral Silence strives to address the needs of these accomplished individual artists and offer hope and support to a wide and diverse audience of viewers who mourn the closure of cultural and performance institutions. The project’s participatory processes and resulting portraits will help to heal and bind communities around memory, loss, and rediscovery as a result of the pandemic.

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Commissioned Artists and Communities

Honna Veerkamp and Jay Needham with Carbondale Community Arts
Adaptive Response: A Drive-In Micro Radio Performance

Adaptive Response is a work for micro-FM transmission and live performance that considers the ways we respond to an ever-shifting landscape of risk and adaptation during the pandemic. Drawing from regionally gathered, pre-recorded stories, live music and audience commentary, artists Jay Needham and Honna Veerkamp live-compose an evolving radiophonic stream. Designed to be performed in community parking lots, Adaptive Response imagines the interiority of the automobile as a new space for socially distanced listening and isolated civic engagement. Listeners are invited to tune in locally on their car stereos or join virtually from anywhere in the world.

Honna VeerkampHonna Veerkamp is a community-oriented artist and educator. Her specialties include audio and video documentary, painting, and socially engaged art. Honna’s work explores natural and human-made environments and celebrates creative resistance—from tiny interventions to grassroots social justice movements, and the stories in between. Honna earned a Media Arts MFA at Southern Illinois University in 2015 and a diploma in Audio Engineering at the Institute for Audio Research in 2002. She was a CAT fellow in 2017-2018 and currently serves on the alumni advisory board.  She has taught audio, video, writing, and fine art at university and community settings.

Jay NeedhamJay Needham is an artist, musician, writer-editor and cultural producer who utilizes multiple creative platforms to produce his works, many of which have a focus on sound and site specific field research. As a hearing-divergent person, Needham makes work that often involves sensing and experiencing sound across many modalities. His sound art, works for radio, visual art, performances and installations have appeared at museums, festivals and on the airwaves, worldwide. Needham is the founding co-editor of Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture, published by The University of California Press. He is a Professor in the Department of Radio, Television and Digital Media at Southern Illinois University and he received his MFA from The School of Art at California Institute of the Arts.

Allen MooreAllen Moore with Auburn Gresham 21st Ward, Block Club 21 Community Garden

Allen Moore’s commission has roots in the summer of 2020 with the creation of a weekly community member centered artist/volunteer-based initiative to create and cultivate the community garden located at 86th and Loomis. In collaboration with Kweli Kwaza, president of club 21 (21st ward) Block club in Auburn Gresham, and with a rotating group of artists, we are organizing outdoor, socially distanced workshops in response to the crippling blank of the pandemic.

For Ground/Work Allen will continue to work with community members to maintain the garden, facilitate DIY workshops based on art and music, and use artifacts and materials generated during community workshops and weekly gardening sessions to create and stream a live performance on June 19, 2021.

Allen Moore is a Black American Interdisciplinary Painter, Experimental Sound Artist, Educator, Youth Mentor and Curator born and raised in the Historic Village of Robbins, Illinois. His work examines both visual and experimental music, emphasizing the importance of nurturing the Black Imagination with social representation and converses with the signifiers of African American and popular culture, bringing to view the underlying themes of racial, emotional and socioeconomic conditions. Moore has exhibited and performed across Chicago and the greater Midwest, including exhibitions Experimental Sound Studio, Elastic Arts, Threewalls, The Museum of Contemporary Art, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Science and Industry Chicago. His work is featured in the Netflix Original Series “Easy” Seasons 1 and 2.

VVAM! (Keith Moore & Bourema “Ibrahim” Ouedraogo) with the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center
Champaign County, March 2020 and Counting: Sounds Like Community as a Response Covid-19

Champaign County, March 2020 and Counting combines a 52-minute audio and video performance documentary created specifically for Viral Silence with archival material from the past year, live commentary and interviews, and live performances from some of the cast members. Keith and Ibrahim will conduct three recording sessions—April 24, May 8, and May 15—with local musicians, poets, and artists at the Independent Media Center and ask what Sounds Like Community meant to them in the first year of the pandemic, and what their hopes and desires are for the arts and the community in the year ahead. The live and recorded program will air on June 30 from 7-10pm on WRFU 104.5, the internet live stream “Sounds Like Community”, and the IMC television broadcast “VVAM!”, which is produced in collaboration with Urbana Public Television (UPTV).

Guests in the documentary range from Will Reger and Ashanti Files, Urbana’s first two poet laureates, to the Writer’s Oya, a group of young poets of color, to DJ Cerbo and Khalil, a father and son hip hop duo, and to community members like Aaron “A+” Wilson, who is poet, musician, and host of the renowned community poetry slam “Soul on Sunday.” Wilson’s appearance is suggestive of the documentary’s range, as we see him reading new work, discussing his personal life and appearances on the show, and reflecting on his own efforts to reestablish his monthly poetry slam online.

Keith MooreKeith Moore is a composer and sound artist, writer, curator, and community-media maker currently based in Urbana, Illinois. Keith uses the fields of acoustics and psychoacoustics to compose expressive and conceptually rich works that compel listeners to consider the beauty and breadth of perception itself. He has collaborated with numerous distinguished organizations such as musikFabrik WDR (Cologne), Ensemble de l’itinéraire (Paris), Ensemble Modern and the International Ensemble Modern Academy (Frankfurt), PRISM Quartet (NYC), Talujon Percussion (NYC), Ensemble 21 (NYC), and soloists including Tomas Bächli (Berlin), Karen Bentley Pollick (CO), Kevin Boyer (London), Maja Cerar (NYC), Juliana Snapper (LA), Taimur Sullivan (Chicago) and Kelland Thomas (Hoboken). In addition to creating original compositions Keith Moore pursues his research through writing, performance, curating and teaching.

Ibrahim OuedraogoBourema “Ibrahim” Ouedraogo is a founder of VVAM!, on the production team of Urbana Public Television, and the owner of Global Visual Media Studio. He is married with two children and has lived in the US for the past ten years. He began engaged-community building in his home country of Burkina Faso, where he worked in community, arts, and cultural preservation; and he has continued that effort in Illinois as a board member and now active volunteer at the Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center.

Sounds Like Community is a pandemic response live stream program that brings a diverse array of community artists and activists together with the public each week for two sets of performances and presentations followed by an open discussion. The show is also broadcast over the airwaves in central Illinois on WRFU 104.5. It’s first episode launched two weeks after the Governor Pritzker’s shutdown order in March 2020. Now entering its second year of programming Sounds Like Community has chronicled the city’s response to the crisis and was the forum in which many artists made their first pandemic era appearance.

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This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

Illinois Arts Council
Carbondale Community Arts
Carbondale Community Arts