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Towards the work of Acoustic Justice

image after Sarah Marginetti: The most tendered organ (2017-2018)
Tuesday, January 21, 2020, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

The presentation will pose the question of acoustics as a critical and creative framework. In particular, acoustics will be underscored not only as a property of space, nor as a knowledge within the field of physics, but equally as a political question. In what ways do acoustic norms shape the experiences and capacities of listening and sociality within certain environments? In this sense, acoustics is highlighted as a performative arena, giving way to specific understandings of relationality, or what I term “extra-relationality”. Specifically, this will lead to investigating how acoustics may function as a platform for a range of practices that work at orientation and reorientation that may exceed the social. From acoustic practices of rhythm and echo, noise and vibration, for example, we may find a means by which belonging and unbelonging may be negotiated. This will allow for reworking understandings of agency as based on appearance and legibility – a making visible. Rather, I’m interested in how the capacity to shift volumes, to rework rhythms, to retune or detune the dominant tonalities of particular situations may assist in nurturing one’s freedom to listen. 

Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer and theorist working with sound culture, voice, and questions of agency. He develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a range of international contexts, often working collaboratively and in public. Works include “The Other Citizen”, Club Transmediale, Berlin (2019), “The Autonomous Odyssey”, Kunsthall 3,14 Bergen (2018), “The Ungovernable”, Documenta 14, Athens (2017), “Oficina de Autonomia”, Ybakatu, Curitiba (2017), “The Hobo Subject”, Gallery Forum, Zagreb (2016), and “The Living School”, South London Gallery (2016). He is the author of Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance (2018), Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imaginary (2014), Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian (2012), Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010), and Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006). He lives in Berlin and is Professor at the Department of Contemporary Art, University of Bergen.