Night Air: Shifting Sands
On Friday 22 April evening, another memorable rendition of Night Air took place at OT301, Amsterdam – the city built on sand. Digging into the relationship between sand, the history of pollution and economy, the event featured an audiovisual work by Félix Blume, talks from scholars Jeff Diamanti and Michaela Büsse, as well as films from Enar de Dios Rodríguez, Maika Garnica, Ans Mertens and Yanjin Wu. In the latter part of the evening, artist Farzané delivered a showcase of her performance LÖSS, before DJs Femi, TAAHLIAH, Snufkin and Europa took over for the night. → Browse through our photos on Flickr. Shifting Sands brought into focus the ecological impacts of sand excavation and consumption, which are marred by displacement and continuous colonial expansion. Shores, dunes and deserts were all figures that followed us throughout the evening. Firstly, sound artist Félix Blume’s Desierto (2021, 24’) transported the audience to altiplano Potosino in central Mexico, a major gold and silver mining hub. Commissioned by ARTE Radio, the piece is filled with recordings from these elevated plains, emphasising that the desert, far from being hostile, is prolific with life. Through their invigorating talks, scholars Jeff Diamanti and Michaela Büsse traced the flows of particulate matter – dust, emissions, pollen, sand – as they are situated and carried across geological time. Enar de Dios Rodríguez’ film Vestiges, along with Pia Borg’s Silica, Maika Garnica and Ans Mertens’ Interlude, and 15” Sand Economy film loops, punctuating the intermissions by Yanjin Wu took us through the politics and poetics of sedimentary rock. Setting particles skittering, Farzané showcased LÖSS, a sound performance simulating the system dynamics of sand formations that served as a model for critical states and self-organisation. Finally, DJs Femi, TAAHLIAH, our very own Snufkin, and Europa delivered the last blast, shaking the sand from beneath our feet. NIGHT AIR Night Air is a series of events that aims to make pollution visible by bringing forth the various side-effects of modernity: from colonial exploitation of people and resources to perpetual inequalities brought about by the destruction of the environment and common land – in other words, destructive capitalist practices that shape both our environment and human-nonhuman relations. **Night air is a myth with its origins in miasma theory (from the Greek for ‘pollution’). The theory held that smelly air from decaying organic matter caused illness. The smell would intensify and worsen by night, so night air became synonymous with poisonous and noxious vapours that could even cause pandemics such as cholera or plague. Only with developments in medicine and various scientific endeavours around the London cholera epidemic in the mid-1800s, did germs replace the ‘unhealthy fog’ as the culprit for diseases. And now, even though the idea has been abandoned, night air still echoes in words such as malaria (‘bad air’ in Italian), which actually connects air-borne poison with flying pests such as the disease-carrying mosquitoes. → Stay informed about future events! Subscribe to the Sonic Acts Newsletter.