2 JUNE, 2023 – 3 JUNE, 2023
Sound of Politics, Politics of Sound: conversations and sonic entanglements
This is the first iteration of a series of gatherings gravitating around the question: How to think of the sonic as a site of dissent?
This two-day program proposes to think and experience the sonic as a site of refusal, insurgency and world-making. How could a poetics of the undercommons sound like? How to make it re-sound? How can we shape modes of fugitive listening and forms of attunement attending to sonic practices that refuse the call to order? How can we organize collective discursive spaces where we can share and expand the emancipatory operations performed by sound and music?
The Listening Sessions, modeled on the practice of Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective, take Stephen Henderson’s overlooked 1972 book, Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References, as a basis for jam-like conversations around “the form of things unknown”. We will imagine and discuss the political charge of the audial and the aural; of hearing and listening.
Throughout the program, sound takes on different shapes, from embodied soundings (Hannah Catherine Jones) to sonic autobiographies (Ain Bailey). We will explore how the secret life of sonic forms circulates within khuaya-rings (Simnikiwe Buhlungu) and how it reverberates in Trevor Mathison’s work for the Black Audio Film Collective (Kodwo Eshun).
Listening sessions, performance, workshop, DJ-sets and film installation with Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective (Dhanveer Brar Singh, Louis Moreno, Paul Rekret, Edward George), Ain Bailey, Hannah Catherine Jones, Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun (The Otolith Group), Bhavisha Panchia, Rokia Bamba and Simnikiwe Buhlungu.
Partners: Argos, Auguste Orts, Courtisane
In the context of the research project Echoes of Dissent (Stoffel Debuysere, KASK & Conservatory / School of Arts Ghent)
FRIDAY 2 JUNE
13:00 – 13:30 Slow arrival
13:30 – 15:30 Listening Session 1 (golden space +2)
16:00 – 18:00 Listening Session 2 (golden space +2)
18:30 – 19:30 lecture by Kodwo Eshun on the aesthetic of Black Industrialism in the work of Trevor Mathison (golden space +2)
22:00 – 3:00 Out Loud x Echoes of Dissent: performative set by Foxy Moron (Hannah Catherine Jones) & DJ sets by Ain Bailey & OJOO GYAL (rooftop +5)
SATURDAY 3 JUNE
13:00 – 13:00 Slow arrival
13:30 – 15:30 Sonic Stories, workshop by Ain Bailey (beurscafé 0)
16:00 – 17:30 Listening Session 3 (golden space +2)
18:00 – 19:30 Listening Session 4 (golden space +2)
20:30 – 21:30 Embodied Listening Session by Hannah Catherine Jones (beurscafé 0)
22:00 – 3:00 Out Loud x Momsnightout: DJ sets by Clara!, Tatyana Jane, NMSS, Illsyll & Fatoosan (rooftop +5)
FR 2.06 & SA 3.06
Through sonic and discursive contributions, the listening sessions engage with a text entitled “the form of things unknown,” which is the introduction to Stephen Henderson’s anthology Understanding the New Black Poetry: Black Speech and Black Music as Poetic References. Drawing inspiration from Henderson’s portrayal of “the other side of the tradition” of black poetry, the sessions propose to collectively draw out our own “unwritten songs, rhythms and speech”. Rokia Bamba, Bhavisha Panchia, Kodwo Eshun and Hannah Catherine Jones join the listening sessions facilitated by Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective (Dhanveer Brar Singh, Louis Moreno, Paul Rekret, Edward George).
SA 3.06 13:30 – 15:30
reserve your spot >>
Ain Bailey invites visitors to participate in a “sonic autobiography” workshop, which explores the role of music in the formation and mobilization of memory. The interactive session will focus on collaborative listening to individually collected sound elements. Bailey, thus, opens up a space of sensory resonance in which forms of communication and exchange about experiences are explored beyond the predominant realm of spoken language. Please bring a small selection of music that carries personal meaning. If you do not have a USB stick, a list of music titles should be supplied in advance, and we will endeavour to source them.
EMBODIED LISTENING SESSION
SA 3.06 20:30 – 21:30
Hannah Catherine Jones will present a triangular dialogue between the resonating chambers of our bodies, singing bowls tuned to 432 Hz, and a carefully selected playlist of healing sounds also tuned to 432 Hz, creating an embodied experience of HCJ’s research into the physiological healing potentials of tuning down.
13h – 23h CINEMA The Khuaya by Simnikiwe Buhlungu (2022, 6 min 16)
We’re dropped mid-conversation of friends discussing a recent neighbourhood story that’s been going around, of holes that have been dug into which neighbours have been tripping and falling.
Woven into this is a context where the thoughts/commands/questions/replies and voices of the sun, plants, water etc. are taken in equal measure and seriousness as the four friends.
This is a chapter in a larger project which looks at the ways in which we come to know (other chapters include a puddle, a lost wallet, a library and honey bees). The Khuaya here (rethinking how ‘choir’ is spelled and situated) functions not as a noun (i.e. a khuaya of people singing) but rather a verb (i.e. khuaya-ring; a gesture of gathering to share/disseminate and store knowledges through the form of useful gossip, inconsistent stories, trivia, daily news, announcements, things to remember by storing them, through which, song/sound becomes a welcome byproduct), but also as a space where listening takes place. As a backbone to this happening is a clear historical and cultural lineage of singing-to-store and the resilience of languages being passed on transgenerationally.
Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective, named after a bar in Pittsburgh where the collective first gathered , comes together irregularly to play music publicly, and to talk about that music. The work of the Collective is based on an idea that music can be studied together as an embodied form of theorizing, and as an insurgent tradition of social and aesthetic communication. The collective features Fred Moten, Stefano Harney, Dhanveer Brar Singh, Fumi Okiji, Ronald Rose-Antoinette, Louis Moreno, Paul Rekret and Edward George. Four members of the collective will participate in Echoes of Dissent (Vol. 1).
The research of Dhanveer Singh Brar focuses on histories of black diasporic culture and politics from the mid-twentieth century onwards. His work approaches the histories of black diasporic culture through modes of artistic experimentation with sound and the politics of intellectual production, paying attention to the relationships between popular and experimental music, art practice, cinema, publishing and political organisation. To this effect, he has published two books: Beefy’s Tune (Dean Blunt Edit) (The 87 Press, 2020) and Teklife, Ghettoville, Eski: The Sonic Ecologies of Black Music in the Early Twenty-First Century (Goldsmiths Press / MIT Press, 2021). He is currently a Lecturer in Black British History at the University of Leeds.
Louis Moreno’s research explores the spatial, historical and cultural modes of financial capitalism with a particular focus on architecture, urbanism and music. Louis is a Lecturer in the Department of Visual Cultures and the Center for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths University of London, London. He is a member of the collectives freethought, Le Mardi Gras Listening Collective and Unspecified Enemies.
In order to understand the global politics of contemporary cultures, Paul Rekret’s work embraces cultural and political theory and global political economy to interrogate changing relationships between mind and body, thought and world, broadly conceived. This involves exploring questions such as how changing experiences of work might be expressed in art and popular cultures or be experienced in the culture industries themselves. His latest book, Take This Hammer: Work, Song, and Crisis (Goldsmiths/MIT Press), investigates changing representations of labour and leisure in an epoch of economic and environmental crisis. From May 2023 he teaches in the School of Social Sciences at Liverpool Hope University.
Edward George is a writer and broadcaster. A founding member of Black Audio Film Collective, he wrote and presented the ground-breaking science fiction documentary Last Angel of History (1996), an examination of the hitherto unexplored relationships between Pan-African culture, science fiction, intergalactic travel, and rapidly progressing digital technology. In his acclaimed series The Strangeness of Dub on Morley Radio, George dives into reggae, dub, versions and versioning, drawing on critical theory, social history, and a deep and wide cross-genre musical selection. He is the host of Kuduro – Electronic Music of Angola, for Counterflows and NTS. George was also a member of the electronic music group Hallucinator, which released a series of influential 12″s and the album Landlocked on Basic Channel’s Chain Reaction label.
Ain Bailey is a London-based artist, composer and DJ. Her practice explores sonic autobiographies and the constellation of sounds that form individual and community identities. Her compositions encompass field recordings and found sounds and are often inspired by reflections on silence and absence, feminist activism and architectural acoustics, particularly of urban spaces. She has developed numerous collaborations with performance, sonic and visual artists, creating multi-channel and mixed media installations and soundtracks for moving images, live performance and dance.
Rokia Bamba is a Brussels-based sound creator, explorer and curator, a radio host, the voice and words of the podcast Sororités, Conversations with my Sistas, an actress, a director and an ARTivist. Bamba started as a radio host, at the age of twelve, for Radio Campus where she, later, co-founded one of the first Hip-Hop radio shows in Belgium: Full Mix ! She realized only belatedly that she wasn’t only a good radio DJ but that she could also make people dance. Bamba is not DJ-ing in just any circle, but picks out the activist circles. Her sound exploration has also deepened through art and theater.
Simnikiwe Buhlungu is a multidisciplinary artist from Johannesburg, South Africa. She is currently based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, where she was a resident at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten (2020 – 2022). She nurtures an interest in knowledge[s] production[s] — how it is produced, by whom and how it is disseminated. Buhlungu locates sociohistorical and everyday phenomena by meandering through these questions and their inexhaustible potential answers. The use of sound, text, installation and print-based media (in their respective non-linear forms) serve as the ‘other ways’ in which epistemological presences and everyday phenomena manifest and exist. Through this, she maps points of cognisance; i.e. how do we come to know?, by positing various layers of awareness as an ecology — one which is syncopated and reverberated. Lately, she has been listening to some modular synthesis and has been thinking about apiaries.
Hannah Catherine Jones (aka Foxy Moron) is a London-based artist, scholar, multi-instrumentalist, broadcaster and DJ (BBC Radio/TV, NTS – The Opera Show), composer, conductor, founder of Peckham Chamber Orchestra – a community project established in 2013 and founder of Chiron Choir – a queer diasporic choir established in 2022. Jones completed her AHRC DPhil scholarship at Oxford University for which the ongoing body of work The Oweds was presented as a series of live and recorded, broadcast, audio-visual episode-compositions, using disruptive sound as a methodology of institutional decolonisation and was awarded with no corrections in 2021. Dr. Jones was a recipient of the BBC Radiophonic Oram Award for innovation in music (2018) and was nominated for the Paul Hamlyn Award composer award (2014).
The Otolith Group was founded by artists and theorists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun in 2002. They work by seeing in the key of listening across media, observing a research based methodology that studies events, archives, movements, compositions, materials, performance, vocality, and space-time in moving and non-moving images, sounds, musics and texts, often departing from the existing works of composers, musicians, poets, and artists, such as Julius Eastman, Codona, Drexciya and Rabindranath Tagore. They have co-edited The Ghosts of Songs: The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective (Liverpool University Press, 2007), while Kodwo is author of such works as Dan Graham: Rock My Religion (Afterall, 2012) and More Brilliant than the Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction (Quartet Books, 1998). The Otolith Group’s work has been exhibited worldwide.
Bhavisha Panchia is a curator and researcher of visual and audio culture. Her work engages with artistic and cultural practices under shifting global conditions, focusing on anti/postcolonial discourses, imperial histories, and networks of production and circulation of media. A significant part of her practice centres on auditory media’s relationship to geopolitical paradigms, particularly with respect to the social and ideological signification of sound and music in contemporary culture. She is the founder of Nothing to Commit Records, a label and publishing platform committed to the production and expansion of knowledge related to the intersection of contemporary art, literature and music within and across the global South.