Review: Stine Janvin Motland – In Labour

Stine Janvin Motland - In LabourHer voice sounds like a scuttling rat in the bottom of a cargo crate, unseen by the labourers heaving hollow metal into the back of neutral-gear trucks. There’s an element of self-stifled panic – screams chopped into shallow, hyperventilated breaths – as though Motland shouldn’t be there, crouching wide-eyed in shock as an intruder without an escape route. In each of these pieces, she protrudes like a lab subject in an environment otherwise in equilibrium, her voice sounding as a moist suction sonar with which to place herself in an air vent (“The Day After”), or as a zoo animal mournfully protesting their inorganic entrapment against the reverb of a barren room (“NNN”). Just as her voice reshapes in response to her environment – stretched like rubber into operatic yelps, compacted into the clacking mechanism of a “hard C” in rapid fire – the landscape seems to turn towards her ever so slightly.

With the outside pieces in particular (public parks, factory exits), I feel a certain social intrusion too; the disrupted expectation to adhere to the gestures and postures of the common public, and the fresh connotations that resituate sonic objects as short-handed allusions to health and mental wellbeing. During “On Display”, her thickened gasps and croaks could perhaps mistranslated as a serious case of breathing trouble, or perhaps just the actions of someone ignorant to the social normality that keeps the modern world running in an efficient straight line. The fact that Motland is there is crucial – these are not responses to an oblivious unfolding, but a dialogue with places and organisms that ripple and respond to her touch; a reaction to the dust on her hands and in her throat; a dagger of excitement in the ears of dogs and a quake of disturbance in a world outside that, without her, ticks by so harmoniously.