This year has been long, our projects and plans have been stretched so many times… Finally, as our time and expectations are expanded again, I feel like sharing with you a few lines on the ongoing sound investigation of the UK-based group Ultra Red and employees of the Natur.Werk.Stadt. As the artists could not come due to the pandemic, I have facilitated the Listening Sessions following their protocols for a sound investigation in July and September in the Echo Jugendzentrum. In October we hosted a live-streamed session with Elliot Perkins and Chris Jones in the Echo Raum of Camera Austria, within Covid protocols. This was surprisingly better than we could imagine – learning how to work together digitally and with a distance in these times…
Not ideal though. The plan now is to continue the sound investigation in January, preparing to present this accumulative process in the exhibition „If time is still alive…“. With the hope that soon we will be able to have our international guests fully present here, as we cannot bridge all the gaps of a fully embodied experience. We listen, in fact, with all our senses, especially when listening is an invitation to a collective practice, a pedagogical practice for organizing struggles.
This collective act of listening – listening to pre-recorded sound objects, and deep listening to our own voices and questions is a very powerful exercise. It seems like a gift, to have the time for exploring this safe space of dialogue, finding commonalities and contradictions, sharing what we are uncertain and uneasy of. In this, we get together and lost among world-views, world-senses, cultures, languages, and expectations; tracing frustrations and shared invisible or invisibilized struggles – some of which we cannot even name…
In these sessions, we had 2 types of recordings: sound-objects recorded on the streets of Graz, collecting the impressions of what happens around; and statement-recordings made by participants. We listened to the recordings together and then we were asked: „What did you hear?“. We reflectedd upon this through writing and reading our writings. This procedure was repeated a few times, so we dived deeper and deeper into it.
Sound-object #1: the river, walking on a stone pavement, a street-magazine seller, the tram.
What did you hear? By naming the sounds, by feeling the atmosphere of the invisible space, free and direct associations led us towards structural racism, inequality, and questions around of labor.
Sound-object #2: Was ist Arbeit, was ist Arbeit?
What did you hear? The intonation of the voice, the repetition, the form of posing the question. We arrive at the uncertainty of a migrant person who does not know how to fit in: what is expected from me, what can I offer, can I belong? The abysms between survival or fulfillment, exploitation, or empowerment seem to get bigger and bigger.
In this process, various questions opened up: how to enable a continuation of the inquiry on the long-term, how to articulate confidence, how can this become really empowering… Finally, how to deal with documentation… That is why I kept postponing this post. 🙂 But now it is done.
I am glad that in The City and the Good Life project we somehow and despite all odds managed to keep on with the flow and the inquiries and actions with all their complexities throughout this pandemic year. I wish the project team and partners, followers and readers, a good start in this challenging new year.
Looking forward to move on with you