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Free Seat by Pedro Carneiro Silva (Brazil) and Ardalan Aram (Iran/Germany)

Anonymous cities create anonymous people, a separation between you and me, them and us. Sometimes we are not able to see the simple things in our daily life when we move through public space. It is the ability of Art to connect us with feeling.

Art is one of the most important tools we have to expose and reflect on personal and social issues we deal with throughout life.

As artists, we can offer propositions: such as our project ‘Free Seat’, to connect people to feeling. In our invitation to share music with us; asking to put yourself in a vulnerable state as you let yourself be affected, we hope and believe that through this project, strangers can meet and sometimes even relate to each other in their vulnerability.

Our project, ‘Free Seat’, is essentially a keyboard and an empty chair paired with a set of headphones, which is then placed in a bustling cityscape. For every person that is curious or daring enough to take a seat, a piece of music is played, which is unique to the individual every time. It is an impulse for strangers to share a moment by leaving their routine, screens or places to be and instead take time to pause and allow a connection through music. The range of emotional responses is fascinating and what we believe to be the richest aspect of the project. It is so beautiful to see how the responses develop and deepen between the participants at that moment the music is created.

‘Free Seat’ started from our thoughts about the impersonal relations we so often experience in big cities. We have seen over the past years the increase of hate, fears, the lack of empathy...if we have no interest in the people around us, we don’t value ourselves as a society. Free Seat is an invitation to for a moment, break this distance between us. In our offering, we present something that is very valuable to us without requiring anything in return. The pandemic has really affected our work, as we have not been able to present ‘Free Seat’ since the virus hit.

We have offers to reach more audiences and present our work in Japan, Holland and Portugal... but we are unsure of when this might be able to happen. We have considered possibilities to move the experience online, but we haven’t yet arrived at a concept we feel that could replicate or reproduce the same experience online.

We often receive messages from people around the world who have seen our project and were inspired to create their own propositions. ‘Free Seat’ will therefore always be a project that we love, as it is always really rewarding to know that we can create connections on several levels through this project. For us, it’s about moving towards a better future - and we believe that art is a crucial part of that future.


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