Zoë Irvine, 'The Lockdown Oratorio of a Call Centre Operator'

Part of Now & Next audio presentation

1 — 30 September 2023

Artwork by Lindsay Perth.

This short radio piece weaves together telephone conversations recorded in early pandemic times, as part of an event called THIS EVENING’S PERFORMANCE HAS NOT BEEN CANCELLED’ created by Zoë Irvine and produced by Bergen National Opera.

We had never experienced anything like this, everything being cancelled or going online, the level of disruption and fear all felt pretty life changing. Instead of making an online work, we created a call centre to connect audiences to the artists and professionals involved in the cancelled productions all over Europe.

The call centre operators were all people involved in the production in some way. So when someone called in and chose an opera company from the menu, their call was routed to them and the next available operator from that production took the call. You could land up talking to a trumpeter or a musical director, a props designer or a tenor.

This audio piece brings a taste of the event and that particular moment in the first lockdown as people slipped out of normal life.


Zoë Irvine

ZOË IRVINE is an artist working in film, installation and participatory projects.

She has a longstanding interest in considering recorded conversation as an artefact.

Her sound design work spans artist’s films, experimental radio, documentaries and more mainstream work.

Together with Pernille Spence they work as IRVINE & SPENCE, creating audio visual installations.

Irvine is also a lecturer and researcher in Sound for Film at Screen Academy Scotland.


Image description: A graphic artwork showing three candlestick telephones in purple, blue and green with a single receiver attached by orange cables against a green background with a dotted map of Europe.