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"A survey is a process of listening" Arika presents a festival of sound, music and listening at the 2012 Whitney Biennial
“For most of the Whitney Biennial, you will be asked to look. A survey is a process of listening, asks you instead to listen.” Barry Esson, Arika
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Arika and the Whitney’s program is the first major collaboration with a UK organisation in the history of the Biennial. The program, a week of performances, investigations and talks, is also the largest focus on sound, music and listening in the Biennial’s history.
One of the leading international organisations working in sound, Arika’s programme at the Whitney cross-pollinates music with ways of listening found in other practices: literature, visual art, film, philosophy or activism. Every aspect of the programme will be performative, asking people to spend time together.
A survey is a process of listening is not just focused on the aesthetics of what we hear, but on the ways listening allows us to think: on the social, political, educational and philosophical possibilities of listening.
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Listening is often reduced to our experience of what we hear: we might call this an aesthetic experience. This festival focuses on other equally important but often less considered aspects of listening. It invites us to consider these modes of listening, their social, spatial, political, philosophical context, how they cause us to think, and how they might relate to our own lives, experiences and contexts. Arika hope that these events investigate what you might call the cognitive experience of listening.
With this in mind Arika have been inspired to undertake a brief survey of some of the different modes of listening evident in North America, as practiced by musicians, artists, filmmakers, activists and philosophers. Each of the performances, talks, investigations, installations or publications in our program investigate many things subjects (labor, poetry, sociology, cultural memory, collectivity, allegory, organising, spontaneity) but they are use listening to do so.
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Jay Sanders, co-curator of the 2012 Whitney Biennial comments “As a curator of performance, film, poetry, as well as visual art in New York for the past decade, I have been a long admirer of the festivals and events organized by Arika. To my mind, they have consistently pushed the vanguard position & been at the forefront of experientially rich, aesthetically demanding, and philosophically provoking curatorial practice in relation to durational art. Where museums and arts organizations are often scrambling to keep up with independent artistic practices, Arika appears to be an equal collaborator, challenging both its audiences and its participating artists to bring their most potent work into view. As I have known many artists, musicians, writers, filmmakers who have presented in Arika's events, it is also a testament to their abilities that their participants have consistently told me that they too feel that Arika are doing the finest and most original curatorial work around, and that the events are organized with the highest level of consideration, care and
professionalism. This is an often impossible chasm to traverse…to present works with an overall intellectual backbone to the structure and organization of the event, and to have the ability to pull it off.”
Andrew Dixon, Chief Executive, Creative Scotland, said “The Whitney Biennial is one of the most respected events in the world and this invitation to work in the USA builds on Arika’s impressive track record in engaging audiences with projects in sound.”
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Particular highlights of A survey is a process of listening include the great conceptual musician and Fluxus associate, Yasunao Tone’s Paramedia an immersive, overwhelming cross between traditional Eastern culture and Western philosophy and media theory and hard, dense visceral computer music.
TEST, a collective creative improvising quartet based out of the NYC Underground (figuratively and literally) for over a decade they performed on a weekly basis in the streets and subway stations of New York City (Astor Place or Long Island Railroad or Times Square). In doing so, they developed a collective, musical but also spatial language, championing the vibration of the streets and of the subway.
Christof Migone Hit Parade project tests sound as it is endured by space and the body. Fifteen participants lie face down and pound the floor with a microphone one thousand times, each person choosing their own rhythm and intensity.
Andrea Geyer’s Comrades of Time, in which seven women recite monologues composed from speeches, letters and essays from 1916-1941, written by architects, writers, philosophers and political organizers from the vibrant years of the Weimar Republic. The performance will act as a kind of cultural echo, an experience of historical times as they are brought to the present.
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Arika is a not-for-profit arts organisation from Scotland, UK run by Barry Esson and Bryony McIntyre. Over the past 10 years they have organized (developed, curated, delivered) some of the leading experimental music, sound and film events in the UK, working with major institutional as well as community partners. These events have included internationally significant festivals and thematically organised projects. Their most recent project was an episodic, 10-week festival in three parts, addressing variously: the relationships between form and content in artists’ political film; the usefulness of nihilism and doubt in performance, neuroscience and critical thought, and; embodiment as a tactic in how we choose to speak, whom we address and how we understand by speaking. You can find out more about their work here: www.arika.org.uk or via email@example.com.
The 2012 Whitney Biennial—the seventy-sixth in a series of Biennials and Annuals that began in 1932—curated by Elisabeth Sussman, curator and Sondra Gilman Curator of Photography at the Whitney, and Jay Sanders, a freelance curator, focuses on a diverse mix of intergenerational artists working in a variety of media. In addition to visual artists, the exhibition includes a select group of filmmakers, choreographers, musicians, and playwrights. The curators have worked on the Biennial’s film program with Ed Halter and Thomas Beard, who run Light Industry. The exhibition is accompanied by an innovative catalogue, designed by Joseph Logan and distributed by Yale University Press, with contributions from each Biennial artist. For more details, please visit whitney.org/Exhibitions/2012Biennial.
The project is supported by Whitney, Arika, Creative Scotland, Boldworks and Julia.
For further information, interview requests and photo requests contact the Whitney Press Office at 212.570.3633 or firstname.lastname@example.org. or via Bryony McIntyre at Arika on email@example.com.
A survey is a process of listening
Arika at the 2012 Whitney Biennial
2 – 6 May 2012
Fourth Floor, Whitney Museum of American Art
Arika are a leading Scottish experimental arts organization. Their programme at the Whitney Biennial is a perfomative survey of listening, as it can be found in music, film, visual art, performance, literature, activism and philosophy.
Wednesday 2 May
11am – 1.45pm Ultra-red & George Lewis – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Working through their installation / residency (see below), today Ultra-red are joined by trombone player, improviser, composer, and scholar in the fields of jazz and experimental music, George Lewis.
2.30pm – 4pm Christopher DeLaurenti – Wallingford Food Bank
Christopher DeLaurenti is a leading field recording artist "Dead broke in 2004, I stretched my meager income with multiple visits to the local food bank: I collected site recordings, interviews, and surreptitious microphone captures into my testimony of poverty.”
4.45pm – 5.45pm Craig Dworkin & Vanessa Place – A Handbook of Protocols for Literary Listening
Craig Dworkin is one of the chief practitioners and thinkers of conceptual writing: he will be giving a guided reading of his handbook for literary listening, joined by Vanessa Place, writer of "arguably the most challenging, complex and controversial literature being written today."
Thursday 3 May
11am – 1.45pm Ultra-red with members of the House | Ballroom scene – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Working through their installation / residency, today Ultra-red are joined by members of New York’s House | Ballroom scene.
2.30pm – 3.15pm Christof Migone – Hit Parade (New York)
Christof is a leading conceptual musician interested in language, voice, bodies, space, intimacy, complicity and endurance. In Hit Parade, 15 participants lie face down and pound the floor with the microphone one thousand times.
4pm – 5.30pm The Indivisible or Inadmissable Committee
When one calls a strike, who hears the call, who attunes and listens to it? How to listen to the call of a strike? What prevents one from hearing this call or stops one from listening to it?
Friday 4 May
1pm – 4pm Ultra-red with Nancy Nevárez – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Working through their installation / residency, today Ultra-red joined by theatre director and activist Nancy Nevárez.
5.30pm – 7pm Andrea Geyer – Comrades of Time
Andrea is a leading German visual artist, creating major image and text based installations and performances, around national identity, gender and class. For Comrades of Time seven New York women recite monologues composed from speeches, letters and essays from the vibrant years of the Weimar Republic.
7.45pm – 8.30pm Yasunao Tone – Paramedia
Yasunao Tone is one of the major (fluxus) sound artists of the last 50 years whose unconventional music brings together traditional Eastern culture, Western Philosophy and media theory to create dense, immersive, overwhelming sound environments.
Saturday 5 May
11am – 2pm Ultra-red with Fred Moten – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Working through their installation / residency, today Ultra-red joined by writer, poet and academic Fred Moten, who works at the intersection of black studies, performance studies, poetry and critical theory.
2.30pm – 3.30pm Sean Meehan
Sean Meehan is a leading improvising percussionist from New York. He creates performances that use music to explore the social construction of space.
4pm – 4.30pm Eugene Thacker – Cosmic Pessimism
Eugene Thacker is a writer, philosopher and occasional noise musician whose performative lecture is concerned with Renaissance occult (musical) thinkers of the cosmic put forward the notion of the "disharmony of the world"
5pm – 5.45pm Brandon LaBelle – In Passing
A prominent thinker about sound and its relationship to everyday life, Brandon make music that doesn't feel like music, but, in some new way, is. In Passing is a silent performance of (musical) reverberation.
Sunday 6 May
11am – 2pm Ultra-red – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Working through their installation / residency, this final session in their week-long residency will review the week and develop questions and propositions for the future.
2.45pm – 3.30pm Evan Calder Williams – Dr. Mabuse dispassionately recites communist theory over found footage of riots
Socialism and/ or Barbarism is a project by Evan Calder Williams, a writer and thinker on ornament, dialectics, melodrama, and the communist politics of (horror) films of the 1970’s. His performed lecture will be about the politics of narration.
4.30pm – 5.45pm TEST – Tom Bruno, Daniel Carter, Matt Heyner, Sabir Mateen
TEST is a collective creative improvising quartet based out of the NYC Underground; figuratively and literally. For over a decade they performed on a weekly basis in the streets and subway stations of New York City.
Wednesday 2 – Sunday 6 May during museum opening hours
Craig Dworkin – A Handbook of Protocols for Literary Listening
Craig Dworkin is one of the leading conceptual writers in the US, who's own brilliant work often takes medium-reflexivity to its impossible conclusion. He will be giving a guided reading of his handbook for literary listening.
Brandon LaBelle – Temporary outpost for an auditory figure
A prominent thinker about sound and its relationship to everyday life, Brandon’s Outpost is an archival space full of live audible energies: researching the ways in which sound and audition move through everyday life, Outpost is a collection of sonic amplifications, video documents, texts and artifacts.
Ultra-red – What is the Sound of Freedom?
Ultra-red are an international sound art collective who develop explicitly political art and learning projects. With communities they have worked with in New York, and over 5 days they will ask: what is the sound of freedom?