12.01.2023 – 30.03.2023
Opening: 12.01.2023, 18:30
*Let the water play* is the fourth site-specific piece for the open call *Like the State, the Toilet is Never Neutral*. Created by Kurt Kolev, it’s a music album that can be heard only in KO-OP’s toilet. The album is made from rare Bulgarian songs, most of which aren’t officially available online. The original songs, however, are chopped and screwed until they’re barely recognizable. They’ve come back to life, but as mere ghosts. Kolev turns the public toilet into a space for music discovery that’s the antithesis of streaming platforms.
The curation algorithms of platforms like Spotify and YouTube have made the discovery and consumption of music easier than ever. In the process they’ve flattened popular taste and created a new musical canon. The songs that the algorithm doesn’t “like” (and those that aren’t available on streaming at all) have become harder to find. Such is the case for Bulgarian music from the ‘90s and early 2000s, retro chalga and all experimental genres. Songs that used to be popular in the recent past can disappear overnight if they don’t have digital copies and their physical media gets lost. The music of marginalized groups suffers the most, since they often don’t have the financial means or the technical know-how to musealize it.
*Let the water play* intentionally creates obstacles. The public toilet places restrictions on us that make normal listening difficult. We’re there alone, for a short time. We enter with the goal to use the toilet or wash our hands. Both actions produce sound, remind us of our bodies, prevent us from hearing the music properly. Kolev emphasizes this effect by placing contact microphones on the toilet and sink, which stop the music once they detect a sound. The visitor becomes a musician, the toilet an instrument. “Playing” the water reminds us of the temporality of music and the fragility of archives. What’s the meaning of a song we can’t hear?
Kurt Kolev is the musical alias of Kaloyan Kolev – an artist, writer and undergraduate student at Yale. His work explores the intersection of Bulgarian history and internet culture. At the start of 2021, he released his debut experimental pop album *Ramonia,* which examines the traces of socialism in Bulgaria and their manifestations online. Outside of music, Kolev writes the newsletter for Bulgarian internet culture *Gotin Link*.
With the support of the National Culture Fund.