Antarctic Music

Sound Installation
5.1 and stereo Version | 18′ | 2014

© Agathe Simon

Listen to Antarctic Music
(full version)

Agathe Simon composed Antarctic Music with two types of sounds:

1. Voices of people from all continents,
2. Sounds she has recorded in Antarctica in March 2014: Sea Elephants, Petrels, Brown Skuas, floating ice on the Antarctic Ocean, landing of Hercules plane in Antarctica, take-off of Kamov Ka-27 helicopter on Chilean Base Frei, Vasiliy Golovnin ice-breaker and its Russian crew, party in Carlini Base, Canal Beagle Argentinian vessel, radio communications, Carlini Base generator, wind, meltwater, Antarctica soil, scientific research.

Antarctic Music is a tribute to the Franco-Argentine novelist and explorer Gabriela Conti (1974-2010) – who does not exist. This sound installation is part of the The Conti Project cycle. Gabriela Conti died in a snow storm on February the 9th, 2010, close to South Pole. The text is based on excerpts of her travelogue during ‘2048 Expedition’. From October the 29th, 2009, to February the 7th, 2010, Gabriela Conti has been part of an international team who crossed Antarctica from Marambio base, in the Peninsula, to Geographic South Pole (2900 km).

The ‘2048 Expedition’ has been launched by the International Organization for Antarctica in order to celebrate the 50 years of The Antarctic Treaty (12.01.1959), the 40 years of Marambio Base (10.29.1969) and the 10 years of Transantarctica Expedition (1989-90). The name ‘2048 Expedition’ is a reference to the upcoming 50th birthday of the application for the Madrid Protocol, relative to the Antarctic environment protection.

For Antarctic Music, Gabriela Conti’s text, originally written in French, has been recorded in 13 languages from all continents. Simon has worked in collaboration with artists and researchers who have translated and performed excerpts of Gabriela’s Antarctic travelogue in their own languages: Persian, Sinhalese, Afrikaans, Swedish, Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Greek, Arabic, Icelandic, Spanish from Argentina, English from Australia, English from United Kingdom. It reminds us that Antarctica belongs to no country but to humanity. Actually, according to Antarctic Treaty, Antarctica is a land of peace and science. It should remain so – a preserved place.

Antarctic Music begins with an allusion to Rabelais, more precisely to the frozen and the unfrozen words of his Quart-Livre (1552). According to this text, “at the edge of the glacial sea”, the phrases, screams and noises of a battle have been frozen by an intense cold. When summer is back, they melt and can be heard.

This very battle may be seen as the conflict pointed out by Gabriela in her travelogue: Antarctica can destroy a person in ten minutes (via snow storm), but humanity can destroy Antarctica in ten years (via global warming). This is why the red color is rather present in this sound creation, from the first words in Persian to the last ones in Swedish: red, like a warning for Global Warming. This core idea of a battle is also evoked through multiple engine sounds, like the Kamov Ka-27 helicopter (which is also used as an allusion to Helicopter String Quartet by Stockhausen) or through the loudness of certain nature sounds, like the grunts of sea elephants, or the wind.

The Antarctic Music sound installation is part of the The Conti Project cycle. The Conti Project is an immersive multimedia cycle in homage to the famous French-Argentine novelist Gabriela Conti (1974-2010) – who does not exist. Since 2013, with the support of various institutional partners, Agathe Simon has been unfolding the Gabriela Conti fiction through solo and collective performances, a documentary directed in Antarctica, a video triptych filmed in the Arctic, an installation of 120 archives and documents, novels and travel stories, film photographs, a radio play on France Culture and two 5.1 sound installations.


Jaâfar Akil | Morrocan photographer and researcher
Cecilia Valentina Conti | Argentinian photographer
Georgios Dimitroglou Rizell | Swedish mathematician
Shahrzad Fathi | Iranian artist and performer
Sigurlín Bjarney Gísladóttir | Icelandic writer
Pauline Gutter Jenkinson | South African painter
Favela Vera Ortiz | Finnish choreographer
Agathe Simon | French artist
Marty St James | British artist
Peter Urquhart | Australian composer
Vela Velković | Serbo-Croatian artist
Deneth Piumakshi Wedaarachchige | Sinhalese fashion designer and visual artist

Direction, recordings, editing, mixing, music: Agathe Simon
Original text: Gabriela Conti, excerpts of Vivre, to be published (© Jules Nancy 2010)
Translations: Each performer has translated Gabriela’s text in her/his language/s.

Special thanks: Mariano Memolli, Andrea Juan, Jean-François Guéganno, Anne Monnier, Lucie Haguenauer, Sten Melin, Jesper Elén, Djamel Mékarnia, Carine Mosca, Alain Louvier.