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Sound Installation

Happy Birthday is a sonic installation and performance presented at A HiFi Wasteland exhibition on 26.10.19 as part of Darsha Hewitt’s UdK 2019 Summer Workshop. HappyBirthday reflects on the concept of celebratory violence, manipulation, and empty rewards through the staging of a birthday party. 7 Piñatas circle a tree hung at various levels. Each piñata has a speaker installed its mouth and plays a rendition of the songIt’s My Party, popularized by singer Leslie Gore. The song recounts a story of a birthday gone wrong with the chorus echoing “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.” The composition in Happy Birthday is accompanied by sounds of sobbing and the occasional explosion from a cake that holds a subwoofer in the center.

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The piñatas are constructed entirely out of found packaging. The inner form is made from cardboard and tape. The outer decorations are paper packing material mixed with wrapping paper. The filling contains the white and clear packing materials found inside shipping boxes. The piñatas themselves are little packages and become significant for reflecting upon the aesthetics of the packaging and what they symbolize. The sterile appearance of protective packing—often white or clear, even sparkly or bubbly. It’s
function —protect our goods, make us feel safe. The outer layer—colorful and happy. The paper and packing are torn, set aside, and immediately discarded. It’s appearance serves as a distraction for the amount of waste that we are consuming. While the piñatas perform as packages, there are no goods further than the contents of shipping. The prize, or lack-there-of, is forgotten as the act of beating the piñata (opening the package) becomes the primary focus. Laughter, joy, and cheering follows a successful beating. The participants feeding off of the momentum of the celebration without considering their actions. A successful distraction. The birthday party itself represents a facade or an excuse to pardon the ensuing violence. The piñatas wail become masked by the bright colors and the theme of the installation. There is no hesitancy from the participants to strike the piñatas down. When framing an act as a celebration, the action becomes pardoned, despite the sad cries of the piñata. The significance of the song It’s My Party highlights the privilege of celebration as the song states, “It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to.”

Samples: Leslie Gore - It’s My Party, Bryan Ferry - It’s My Party, The Paris Sisters - It’s
My Party, Hellen Shapiro - It’s My Party
Composition: Instrumental - Aleksander Filipiak, Vocals & Editing - Kayla Elrod

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