Sonic Acts is pleased to reveal the second batch of names for Sonic Acts Festival 2019. Under the heading Hereafter, the 25 year anniversary edition of the festival reflects on the entangled issues of power relations, neo-colonialism, capitalism, technological advancement and the implications of those practices for our environment. From 21 to 24 February, the festival will move through conversations with artists and thinkers at a three-day international conference, plus a programme filled with audiovisual performances, concerts, films, installations, exhibitions, and club nights at various locations in Amsterdam, including Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond, Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ and Arti et Amicitiae.
New confirmed artists and speakers are Ryoko Akama, Alobhe, Bergsonist, Jonas Bers, Maeve Brennan, Zeno van den Broek, Clausthome and Mārtiņš Ratniks, Tony Cokes, Mieriën Coppens, Quay Dash, Stoffel Debuysere, Rick Dolphijn, HC Gilje, Rana Hamadeh, Louis Henderson, Lyra Hill, Lukas Marxt, Polina Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne, Charm Mone, The Otolith Group and Annie Fletcher, Drone Operatør and Mette Rasmussen, Ulrike Ottinger, Oxhy, Claude Speeed, Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner, Dave Quam, Ash Sarkar, Jung An Tagen, Ana Vaz, Olivier Marboeuf and Nuno da Luz, Susanne M. Winterling, Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, and YATTA.
The complete programme will be revealed at the end of January. Read about the previously confirmed artists here.
Festival Passes are now on sale for €100 (€80 for students). A special group discount is available for visitors in groups of four or more at €70 per pass. Day Passes and event tickets will be available at the end of January.
A three-day conference at Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond features lectures and discussions from artists and theorists probing some of today’s most urgent questions, while this year’s film programme, which runs parallel to the conference, offers several speakers the possibility to expand their lectures with moving images.
Conference panels will be moderated by prominent writers, journalists and academics, including Ash Sarkar, a senior editor at Novara Media and a lecturer in global politics at Anglia Ruskin University. Sarkar also teaches as part of a master’s degree in film, graphic design and propaganda at the Sandberg Instituut, and is a contributor to publications such as The Guardian and The Independent. At Sonic Acts Festival 2019, she will preside over a panel with Jodi Dean and Gregory Sholette, discussing topics around communism and the radical imagination.
Writer and philosopher Rick Dolphijn returns to Sonic Acts to host a conference session with Rosi Braidotti and Susanne M. Winterling. Dolphijn’s work to date, which focuses on continental philosophy, contemporary art, activism, and life, includes authoring Foodscapes (2005), and New Materialism (2012) with Iris van der Tuin, and editing This Deleuzian Century (2014) with Rosi Braidotti. Dolphijn teaches at Utrecht University and holds an honorary associate professorship at Hong Kong University. As a part of this year’s Sonic Acts programme, Dolphijn is also organising a Research School for Media Studies (RMeS) seminar and close reading session on contemporary theory, creativity, the Earth and us.
Ash Sarkar at Progress Bar. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Rick Dolphijn at Sonic Acts Academy 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Joining Dolphijn’s panel is Susanne M. Winterling, who works across a variety of media including film, photography, sculpture and performance. Winterling is primarily known for her time-based installations which critically engage the representation of reality. Prevailing modernist concepts, power structures and hierarchical historiographies are captured and investigated in her work in the form of spatial constellations. With an emphasis on enhancing our perceptual and critical consciousness, Winterling undertakes affective and material-based research that highlights the subjective interaction between producers, viewers and species in our ecology. She will also feature as part of Rick Dolphijn’s RMes seminar, alongside Rosi Braidotti and others.
Elsewhere at the conference, filmmakers and researchers Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner will introduce their long-term project Universal Syntax, which seeks to untangle the human tendency to read the natural world as a text. Wagner’s research themes include the cyclical regeneration of media technologies, the history of science, the thresholds of human and nonhuman life, affective feedback, agricultural production and the politics of waste. He was a researcher at Jan van Eyck Academy and is currently a senior lecturer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam. Litvintseva is a lecturer in Film Studies at Queen Mary University of London and is currently completing a PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa’s talk will focus on her artistic practice. Working in a wide range of media, formats and contexts, she has studied the roles that representational practices played in European powers’ attempts to advance arguments in favour of colonialism and its perpetuation in Africa right up to and during the liberation struggles of the mid-twentieth century. Wolukau-Wanambwa is Director of Research at the Nagenda International Academy of Art & Design (NIAAD) in Namulanda, Uganda, and Research Fellow in Fine Art at the National Academy of Art & Design in Bergen, Norway.
Louis Henderson at Sonic Acts Academy 2016. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Louis Henderson at Sonic Acts Academy 2016. Photo by Pieter Kers.
In line with his new project around Toussaint Louverture – one of the leaders of the Haitian Revolution – Louis Henderson presents Bring breath to the death of rocks (work in progress), a film that suggests an archaeology of the colonial history of France buried within its landscapes and institutions. Many millions of years ago the Jura was a tropical ocean, as it metamorphosed into the mountain range it left behind large sedimented layers of time. The film dramatises the escape of the ghost of Louverture from his castle prison. Through historical detournement the past is revisited in order to imagine an alternative future, and in doing so the film offers what Édouard Glissant described in the introduction to his play Monsieur Toussaint (1959) as ‘a prophetic vision of the past’. Henderson will also talk about the project at the conference.
Maeve Brennan’s film Listening in the Dark (2018) unearths the repercussions caused by the presence of wind turbines located near the regular flight paths of bats. Framed by the current ecological crisis, the study steers an agile, intuitive but increasingly troubled and disconcerted course through these fast-changing environmental conditions. Maeve Brennan is an artist and filmmaker based in London. She was educated at Goldsmiths, University of London, and was a fellow of the Home Workspace Programme at Ashkal Alwan in Beirut (2013–14). She received the Jerwood/FVU Award 2018.
Brussels-based researcher and curator Stoffel Debuysere is a head programmer for the Courtisane festival, and a lecturer in Film Critical Studies at the School of Arts in Ghent, where he recently obtained a PhD with his research project Figures of Dissent (Cinema of Politics, Politics of Cinema). Active in the fields of cinema and visual arts, he has organised numerous film programmes, lectures, performances, and exhibitions in collaboration with a variety of organisations and institutions. Alongside his conference talk, Debuysere curates a special programme of films, including a new work by Mieriën Coppens. Attempting to absorb images through remembrance into daily practice, Coppens’ works appear as forgotten images, images that leave traces and balances on the edge of recognition and alienation, which find a resonance where fiction and reality meet.
In the lead up to the festival, an expansive exhibition cumulates from 8 February to 3 March at Arti et Amicitiae (opening 8 February), Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond (opening 16 February) and Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (opening 22 February), comprising spatial audiovisual installations, video art, and sound works by a number of influential contemporary artists. Three chapters unfold through different topics and focuses, dealing with questions of landscape manipulation, pollution, and ethnographic gaze (Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond); excavating structures of power, and making visible their cultural, and political engagement with colonial projects (Arti et Amicitiae); and with an emphasis on emancipatory struggles and their media representations (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam).
Among the numerous artists and works to be featured at Arti et Amicitiae will be a new commissioned piece by visual and performance artist Rana Hamadeh. Drawing on a curatorial approach within her artistic practice, Hamadeh develops longstanding discursive projects that think through the infrastructures of justice, militarism, histories of sanitation, and theatre. Her work stems from an extended investigation into specific concepts and terms, treating the field of theory as fiction. In 2011, she initiated the Alien Encounters project, which has since been operating as an incubator for a growing series of propositions aimed at complicating the notion of ‘alienness’. She graduated with an MFA from the Dutch Art Institute in 2009. She is the recipient of the 2017 Prix de Rome for Visual Arts.
At Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond, Lukas Marxt presents a video installation and a series of paper works entitled Imperial Valley (cultivated run-off), which he made in 2017. The work deals with the problem of agricultural exploitation of California’s Imperial Valley through a gigantic irrigation system fed by the Colorado River. Fertiliser run-off from the nearby farms are collapsing the ecosystem of the Salton Sea, an artificial lake at the edge of the valley. The lake’s continuing desiccation and the resulting release of toxic particulate matter puts the Salton Sea at risk of becoming one of the biggest health hazards in US history. Marxt is a an artist researching deserted places and violent geographies such as oil rigs or Arctic coastlines. In 2012 Marxt was involved in The Arctic Circle Residency Program.
Ulrike Ottinger is one of the most prominent German avant-garde artists. She spent much of the 1960s working as a painter in Paris – where she also studied with the likes of Claude Lévi-Strauss and Louis Althusser – before launching her film career in Berlin in the early 1970s. Her first feature film, Madame X (1977), drew the interest of queer and feminist scholars. She has collaborated with Delphine Seyrig in two features from that time: Freak Orlando (1981) and Johanna d’Arc of Mongolia (1989). In 1990s, Ottinger shifted away from the theatrical extravagances to a carefully observed documentary. Her travelogues focus insightfully on the quotidian reality of everyday people. China. The Arts – The People (1985) is the first in a series of long documentaries made in the course of Ottinger’s travels through Asia. In 1992, she made an eight-hour film Taiga and in 2016 twelve-hour long Chamisso’s Shadow, which will be presented at Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond. The 12-hour film is a journey to the Bering Sea in three chapters and will be presented in its entirety several times during the exhibition in an improvised cinema.
Ana Vaz is an artist and filmmaker whose films, installations and performances explore complex relationships between environments, territories and hybrid histories, pushing the boundaries of our perception. Assemblages of found and shot materials, her films combine ethnography and speculation in exploring the frictions and fictions imprinted upon situated spaces and their multiple inhabitants. She will present a 3-channel installation Mediums (Voyage Out). Vaz will also be performing at Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond with Olivier Marboeuf and Nuno da Luz at the exhibition opening. Marboeuf is an author, critic, performer and independent curator. His path has led him through issues of the connections between text and voice to still and moving images and more broadly on the importance of sharing. For several years now his research has focused on a re-examination of colonialism according to the principles of narrative speculation that compete with the dominant historical tale. Da Luz is an artist and publisher whose work circumscribes both aural and visual in the form of sound events, installations and printed matter.
At Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, a large selection of video works by Tony Cokes will be presented. Cokes, who will also deliver a lecture at the conference, makes video, installation, print and sound works that reframe appropriated texts to reflect upon capitalism, subjectivity, knowledge and pleasure. His works have been shown at Centre Georges Pompidou, MoMa, Whitney Museum, ZKM, REDCAT, and screened at festivals including the Berlin Biennale, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Oberhausen. Cokes is Professor in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
During their long standing collaboration, The Otolith Group (Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun) have drawn from a wide range of resources and materials. Their research-based work spans moving image, audio, performance, installation and curation. The duo incorporate filmmaking and post-lens-based essayistic aesthetics that explore the temporal anomalies, anthropic inversions, and synthetic alienation of the posthuman, the inhuman, the non-human and the complexity of the environment conditions of life we all face. In 2019, together with the chief curator at the Van Abbemuseum Annie Fletcher, they are preparing a large-scale and travelling museum retrospective. One of their latest video installations, The Third Part of the Third Measure (2017), will be presented at the Stedelijk, featuring works by the queer African-American avant-garde composer, pianist, vocalist and conductor Julius Eastman, whose ecstatic militant minimalism initiated a black radical aesthetic that revolutionised the US East Coast’s new music scene of the 1970s and 80s. They will also present the exhibition curatorial concept together at the conference.
Sonic Acts Festival 2017 at Paradiso. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Sonic Acts Festival 2017 at Paradiso. Photo by Pieter Kers.
Throughout the weekend’s evenings and nights, Sonic Acts will present an exhilarating programme of audiovisual performances, sound and light installations, and contemporary forward-thinking music. Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam hosts, among others, sound artist, composer and performer Ryoko Akama, with a new work co-commissioned by Sonic Acts and STEIM on the occasion of 50 years of STEIM. Akama's work aims to offer quiet temporal and spatial experiences, and is connected to literature, fine art and mixed media (technology). She employs small and fragile objects such as paper balloons and glass bottles in order to create tiny aural and visual occurrences that embody ‘almost nothing’ aesthetics.
At Paradiso, comics artist and filmmaker Lyra Hill presents the spectacular Breath With Cube, a performance that mixes psychedelia with fantastic tales of self-discovery, the body and the mysteries of nature. Hill’s performances usually use multiple film projectors, looping audio effects and pulsating hand-drawn images to create super-sensory environments of light, colour and sound.
HC Gilje works with real-time environments, installations, live performance, set design and single channel video. He was a member of the video improvisation ensemble 242.pilots, and was also the visual motor of dance company Kreutzerkompani. In 2006, Gilje initiated the research project Conversations with Spaces, with which he explores how audiovisual technology can be used to transform, create, expand, amplify and interpret physical spaces. HC Gilje’s work revolves around different forms of improvisation – whether as live performances, experimental videos or spatial installations. At Sonic Acts, Gilje presents the laser and sound piece Radiant, a large-scale light work in constant flux.
New York-based media performance artist Jonas Bers works with hand-built and hacked audiovisual systems. His video sonification works incorporate salvaged VHS-era editing machines, surveillance cameras, military surplus and laboratory devices that have been modified and repurposed into tools for real-time performance. Bers’ work is concerned with connections between the technological singularity, sensory perception and the physical universe; and the phenomenological aspects of intense audiovisual stimulus.
Mārtiņš Ratniks is a media artist working in the fields of sound and digital video design, who has contributed largely in developing Riga’s VJ scene. He is a key member of the E-LAB and RIXC, and co-founder of the digital video artist group and label F5. At Sonic Acts, Ratniks presents a live audiovisual performance Entropik Archive with Latvian musicians Clausthome. Working mainly with drum noise, radio noise and ambient electromagnetic sounds, Clausthome create sound from data gathered by radio telescopes and from archives of astronomy research data servers.
Polina Medvedeva is a Russian-Dutch filmmaker who researches the notion of informality, focusing on informal economies and non-conformist communal structures, their principles influencing the aesthetics of her videos. Medvedeva’s work has been exhibited and screened at several prominent Dutch and international spaces and events. At Sonic Acts, Medvedeva and Andreas Kühne present their audiovisual work The Informals/Неформалы, a joint commission by Sonic Acts and Inversia festival in Murmansk. Kühne works as an improvising musician focusing on interdisciplinary projects, as well as a drummer, actor, composer and sound artist.
Drone Operatør is the musical venture of artists Paul Barsch and Tilman Hornig that started its prolific career as a conceptual kleptomaniac post digital free jazz outfit about two years ago. Since then they have created more than 240 songs or 14 hours of experimental and free form quasi jazz, released continually on SoundCloud. For Sonic Acts, the duo present a performance with the Norwegian saxophonist Mette Rasmussen, who will improvise in conversation with a flying drone until its battery is empty. Rasmussen’s ability to move between the often strict confines of genres and explore the elements is on full display throughout. In solo affairs as well as in collaborations, Rasmussen has encapsulated her own personal vision of the role of the saxophone, often turning it into a complete physical experience. Her performances tie together audience and artist, and embody the energy between the two.
Claude Speeed's music may seem a world apart from the sweaty punk rock basements where Scottish teenagers pick up guitars to earn their first musical merits, but that's exactly the scene where he grew up. His latest albums with Planet Mu, Infinity Ultra and Other Infinities, are impressionistic bursts of varied creativity, featuring shimmering VSTs, monolithic noise, euphoric blocks of colourful sound, trance stabs and towering drones – all rendered against cold, sinister space and nostalgic synth melodies. At Sonic Acts, Speeed performs together with filmmakers and researchers Sasha Litvintseva and Beny Wagner, who also deliver talks at the conference.
Through the use of synthesis and sampling techniques, Jung An Tagen builds aleatoric arrays, repetitive figures and polyrhythmic moires that speak equally to the body and to the mind. The grammar of this music is confounding, the language itself immediate, oscillating between modern composition and ritualistic techno, immersion and repulsion. In 2016, the Viennese artist found a local home at Editions Mego, a label with more than 20 years of expertise in this territory. In the past, Stefan Juster appeared with different monikers on labels such as Not Not Fun, Blackest Rainbow, Orange Milk and as an experimental video artist.
Zeno van den Broek is a Dutch-born, Copenhagen-based composer who works in a multi-sensory way to research and express physical, social and acoustic notions. He creates site- and concept-specific works through immaterial, digital and temporal means. Van den Broek’s background in architecture enables him to comprehend and reveal the richness and complexity of spatial, visceral and physical perception. He works with a characteristic artistic language based on minimalist and fundamental elements such as sine waves, lines, noise and grids. At Sonic Acts, he will show his film Entrop.
Under the guise Bergsonist (derived from Deleuze's Bergsonism), New York-based Moroccan artist Selwa Abd uses multiple mediums to investigate social resonance through divergent conceptual aesthetics. With a design sensibility, she filters the objects of intuitive exploration guided by an impulse to detach subjective meaning from found sonic fragments, driven by notions of identity, memory and social politics.
As part of the festival’s club programme, Progress Bar welcomes some of today’s most captivating performers and DJs, supporting radical club cultures through communality and hopefulness. Quay Dash is one of New York rap’s most defiant voices. The Bronx rapper’s scorching debut album, Transphobic, featured blaring beats and grooving rhythms from SOPHIE, an unbreakable confidence that channeled early Nicki Minaj, and biting lyrics that spoke to her personal experience as a black transgender woman. She has also worked with producers such as Sega Bodega, kicking down the club door and declaring her supremacy.
Brazilian artist Charm Mone creates hybridised performances that navigate from both stage and club environments to gallery and theatre spaces. Since relocated to Berlin, the budding composer’s work has been growing significantly. Early 2018 saw them premiere a live show entitled Body Memory in collaboration with producer nunu, and Charm is currently working on their first EP set to be released in 2019. Retiring his old Massacooramaan handle, Dave Quam’s aims are still the same: to create challenging electronic music. After recording his own experimental sounds, DJing house parties and penning his seminal blog It’s After the End of the World, the Portland, Oregon-based musician, multimedia artist and writer released several EPs of mangled Frankenstein compositions on LAX-based label Fade to Mind.
Alobhe is a Berlin-based musician whose first EP State Space was released on UK label Tobago Tacks in 2017. This was followed by releases on compilations for Warsaw’s Intruder Alert, London’s Alien Jams and NYX Unchained in 2018. Alobhe has been described as the 'evilest DJ in the world' by colleague Yves Tumor. London-based Oxhy assembles sounds and worlds into funeral dirges for lifeless worlds, and war songs for new ones. When playing live, Oxhy produces a stream-of-consciousness-performance, unpacking the visceral context that fueled 2017’s respite unoffered and upcoming releases. YATTA is the stage name of Brooklyn-based, Sierra Leonean-American singer Yatta Zoker. In addition to being a musician, Zoker is a multimedia artist and poet. She Said Yes!, recently reissued by label PTP, is ‘an intimate album of hermaic spaces… unafraid to show its seams’ (Tiny Mix Tapes).
Sonic Acts Festival 2019 is funded by the Creative Industries Fund NL, Amsterdam Fund for the Arts, Mondriaan Fonds, Fonds 21, VSBfonds, Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds and the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung, and supported by Paradiso, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ, Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond, Arti et Amicitiae, STEIM, Utrecht University, Goethe Institut, The Wire and Crack Magazine. Sonic Acts Festival 2019 is part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.