Sonic Continuum: Listening as Critique

Image courtesy Nottingham Contemporary and Till Gatheman
Image courtesy Nottingham Contemporary and Till Gatheman

Due to concerns around COVID-19, contributions to this event will appear in The Contemporary Journal.

The third instalment of the symposia series Sonic Continuum, our long-term research strand investigating social architectures of time and practices of world-making through sound, features artists, thinkers, musicians, and sound researchers to ask how are individual’s listening practices shaped by their experiences and historical context? How do transits, transitions and intersecting positions articulate with power?

Alongside Western imperialism, colonisation, and enslavement, listening practices were used to construct and confirmed allegedly natural power relationships built on inequity. Across time and space, and in an attempt to oppose cultural erasure, acts of refusal, intimacy and care were used to strengthen kinships through sound, ritual and song as world-making strategies.

This two-day programme of performances, talks, poetry and live broadcast, explores sonic modes of knowing and being that evade or refuse representation, transparency and legibility. Departing from the afterlives of slavery and enduring legacies of colonialism, it listens to how musical forms, languages and sensibilities are transformed by transnational movements. From the Harlem Renaissance to international solidarity networks that helped to spread anticolonial sensibilities through music, resistance to standards of European notation across musical genres, and the rise of pop and global dance music as well as club cultures with its queer critique of political visibility, how do artists and musicians develop forms of critique that come through listening beyond existing frameworks of representation?

Participants include performance studies scholar Melissa Blanco Borelli, curator Paz Guevara, artist and filmmaker Louis Henderson, artist collective Radio Earth Hold (Rachel Dedman, Arjuna Neuman, and Lorde Selys), artist and musician Satch Hoyt, composer and radio host Hannah Catherine Jones, performance and visual artist Jota Mombaça, Black studies and queer theorist Tavia Nyong'o, curator and researcher Bhavisha Panchia, musician Maxwell Sterling, poet Nisha Ramayya, Black feminist scholar Michelle M. Wright, and poet Belinda Zwahi (MA.MOYO).

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