Arts & International Affairs: Volume 2, Number 2 - Page 70

Silence, Voice, and the Dialogic Scream Xenia Hanusiak Described as the ‘High Priestess of Harmony,’ whose writing has ‘enjoyed exceptional public approbation,’ Xenia Hanusiak is a festival director, writer, scholar, opera singer and cultural diplomat. Committed to the exchange of ideas through culture she has contributed to every Australian festival, Aarhus Festival, Banff Festival of Arts, Next Wave Festival, Brooklyn Academy of Music Festival, Kennedy Center, Singapore Arts Festival, Beijing Music Festival, and the MODAFE Festival. With a PhD in Literature and multiple degrees in music she has held positions at Columbia University, Melbourne University, National University of Singapore, and Beijing University. Her collection of essays and commentaries can be read across the globe from The Australian to The South China Post, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, Music and Literature, The Log Journal and La Scena Musicale. Xenia has held diplomatic postings including most recently as Manager of Cultural Affairs, Australian Consulate (New York). There is an ephemeral moment in the final act of a Puccini’s La Boehme when neither melody, nor words sound. Instead, a sponge mallet strikes a cymbal. Most of us have never heard this softly spoken, fleeting moment or realize it exists. But with this solitary sweep against a Turkish cymbal Mimi’s death is announced. You will certainly remember this moment because you have felt the agonizing cry of Mimi’s lover that follows it. In The Body in Pain (1987), philosopher Elaine Scarry (1987) argues that physical pain resists language. “It has no voice. When it at last finds a voice, it begins to tell a story.” In 2015, a photograph of a paramilitary officer cradling the lifeless body of a Syrian toddler reverberated across the globe and saturated news cycles. With this silent frame, the now iconic and unambiguous photograph symbolizing the humanity of the refugee crisis engaged sounds of alarm. In the immediate aftermath multiple pledges of activism from politicians rose in chorus, donations surged in charity bank accounts, and artists including Ai Weiwei augmented the resonance of the image. Twelve months later, with a voice as bracing as a siren, the toddler’s father, Abdullah Kurdi shattered deeper silences. He told The Telegraph “Everyone claimed they wanted to do something because of the photo 70 doi: 10.18278/aia.2.2.19