Fingernails on a Blackboard: Bella

2014
analog video transferred to digital
color, silent
16 mins

Fingernails on a Blackboard: Bella investigates the voice as the embodied medium of speech.

The video deploys the transcript of a session between politician Bella Abzug – the feminist and New York Congresswoman – and her vocal coach. During their meeting, the pair work at neutralizing Abzug’s regional accent and softening her tone – strategically altering her voice to something more universal and soothing and, ostensibly, more successful in the political arena.

Fingernails on a Blackboard: Bella addresses the political consequences of gender and the specific limitations of power, communication and relatability in the specter of public speech.