BEK Opening Week: Maia Urstad: The birds – a collaboration with Anna Papaeti

BEK 17.02.2024 21.00


Saturday 17 February
BEK, C. Sundts gate 55, 9th floor
Free and open for all (no registration required!)

Mychos – Puffinus yelkouan or Mediterranean shearwater – is an endangered sea bird whose biggest colony is found on the barren island of Gyaros at the Aegean Sea, Greece. A place of exile since Roman times, Gyaros was turned into a detention site for political prisoners in modern Greece during the (post) civil-war period and the military dictatorship. From 1974 to 2000, it was used by the Greek Navy for military exercises. At present the public is still not allowed to visit the island.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is currently in charge of patrolling Gyaros and monitoring wildlife which has thrived in the absence of humans: large populations of Mychos, Monachus Monachus seals, birds and snakes are listed among its permanent inhabitants.

Consisting of two works that share the same title and are dialogue with each other, The birds constitute the first critical reflections of Maia Urstad and Anna Papaeti from their creative encounter in Syros/Gyaros (Greece) and Vardø (Norway). Taking as a starting point the outworldly and cry-like sound of Mychos, the works reflect on the process of listening attentively to that which remains inaudible from the encounter with traumatic history and nature – to what lies outside language and the symbolic. In counterpoint with each other, they explore how our own position as listeners and witnesses to historical trauma conditions and informs our auditory experience.

Maia Urstad (Norway) and Anna Papaeti (GR/CY) met in the context of the Transmissions Sound Art Residency Exchange which was co-organized by Syros Sound Meetings (Greece) and North Norwegian Arts Center (Norway) with Karolin Tampere, and coordinated by Onassis Stegi (Greece) in partnership with Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (Norway). The exchange was part of the Transmissions project, supported by the EEA Grants program and the Norwegian Financial Mechanisms 2014–2021. The birds is their first collaboration.

Anna Papaeti’s text work is available at BEK during the sound performance, but Anna Papaeti herself will not be present.

Maia Urstad

Maia Urstad works at the intersection of audio and visual arts, primarily with site-specific and spatial sound installations. Technological development and communication technology are recurring themes in many of her works, often with the use of radio as a central auditory, visual, and conceptual element. These problematize the volatility of today’s technology and what traces and stories we leave behind when new inventions enter our everyday lives. Her work also tends to focus on flops, lost causes, and developments that are on the border of obsoletion.

Anna Papaeti

Anna Papaeti is a musicologist/researcher writing about opera and musical theatre, as well as the nexus of music, sound, trauma, and memory. Her research critically explores the intersections of politics, ethics, and aesthetics. Since 2011 she has investigated the use of music and sound as a means of manipulation, terror, and resistance in situations of detention, focusing on such notions as sonic violence, acoustic witnessing and the ethics of listening. She is also a research-based-art practitioner, working in sound and textual forms.


BEK’s space unfortunately is not wheelchair accessible. Please send us an email at if you’re using a wheelchair, and we’ll do our best to facilitate your needs. Our space has all gender toilet facilities. Service dogs are welcome. We also provide the option of a quiet room.

All images: Gyaros, photo: Maia Urstad.

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