Speakers / artists
United States, Estonia
“Estonian” Regilaul and the Preservation of the Ontological Totality
Estonian regilaul is an oral tradition that is ritualistic, communal, and multisensory in nature. To sing regilaul is to enter a shifting web of self-organized relationality. Here in this heterophonic home, voices swell and swarm, much like mycelium, animating matter and dissolving the difference between human and non-human. A vivid sociality is alive here, one in which pain and joy are felt collectively, distributed through communal flesh, and not possessed by individual minds. Before the advent of modernity, when most Estonians were considered non-white and not human i.e indigenous serfs, regilaul was a widely practiced tradition. When serfdom was abolished in the late 19th century, and Estonians were allowed to become individual subjects, the tradition started to fade.
In my talk, I apply a decolonial lens to the historical trajectory of regilaul. Using the wealth of conceptual weapons developed by Fred Moten and the Black Radical Tradition, I argue that one should listen for and try to amplify the haunting, imperceptible echoes of regilaul against the grain of Estonian hypernationalism. If there is any hope left in this ecological apocalypse, I contend that it might be located in the spontaneous sound and anharmonic action of regilaul’s physical sociality—a way of gathering that violates the very figure of the individual human subject.
Vaim Sarv is an experimental musician and vocalist. Her practice blends free improvisation with noise and pagan oral tradition. Mutating his voice with live electronics, she works towards an animalistic, machine-like sound interwoven with lyrics and spoken word. Often taking place in unorthodox locations, his ritualistic performances amplify the disruptive and celebratory power of communal experiences. She hosts Land Services on IDA Radio.