Listening Session with Curator Regina Basha

What does it mean to be a listener?

From the moment Regine Basha was brought into this world, she was culturally immersed in a family that spoke three languages, Arabic at home, Hebrew to her older brothers, and English for Regine.  Her ears were finely tuned to pick up on secretive conversations alongside parties which lasted until they served breakfast in the morning; recalling trying to tune out the cacophony to catch some sleep in a nearby coat closet. By the time Basha turned eighteen she left Israel to study art and art history in the states, realizing the importance of her surrounding culture as a child giving her the gift of listening abstractly. She has a fascination with the quarter tone, found commonly in Arabic music, “unfortunately labeled ‘oriental’ to western ears.” Native to Arabic music in the forties is the Maqam, a distinctive sound of a particular feeling or mood, compared to the feeling of listening to a symphony. Played by her father on the Oud this deeply rooted culture is now hidden in classrooms where people still gather to keep the tradition alive.

“It was almost like the Buena Vista Social Club moment”

In Crossing Listening Thresholds, Basha explores the many types of listening, from planetary sounds to ASMR. While in Marfa, she worked with students to create jingles from listening to the towns folklore. In New York’s SoHo district, Fridman Gallery celebrated their 50th anniversary of 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering in which Basha helped curate. The performances are all video archived by artist name, creating a collection of works focusing on sound as object. “Some sound manipulations are hard to watch but can be beautiful in their own ways.” Basha had a sense of nostalgia when speaking of her connection with Pauline Oliveros, founder of Deep Listening and an inspiration to the community she cultivated through her commitment to listening. Basha was thankful to have been able to preform and share insight with such an influential composer, performer, and humanitarian only a few months before her death. Regine Basha continues on the paths laid out by the masters before her in order to curate new and experimental exhibitions to transform the future.

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