Inner Space - Elena Biserna recommends
3 - 17 July 2020
- For Inner Space, we are asking artists, curators, and art critics to submit a list of their artistic top 10 of the moment.
- Let's discover what the curator Elena Biserna has for us this week!
Forms of togetherness and resistance through voice and listening
"Radio as a means of dissemination does not care about the borderline between art and social life. […] Radio intervenes in everyday situations. […] Radio addresses people not as a gathered mass but as dispersed individuals. […] The broadcast is not one constellation, but many constellations. […] The constellations of listeners could be transformed into an association. An association has unpredictable impact. […] The utopian promise of radio art lies in the fact that the future of radio will be beyond the control of capitalist economy – it will always be uncontrollable. " Ligna, The Future of Radio Art (2005)
I’ve always been fascinated by radio as a mobile, immaterial and delocalized medium, able to disperse and intervene in the everyday sphere. Since its origins, radio has been a generative platform blurring spatial and temporal boundaries, connecting people and places, displacing aesthetic practices into social life. I conceive its simultaneous spatialities as a pervasive public space, amplifying and distributing voice and listening as connective practices and nourishing forms of intimacy as well as of publicness and agency. Its histories and counter-histories are crossed by currents of contestation and dissent, where radio became a resonant chamber for “other” voices and a laboratory for transgressing mass-media’s cultural forms, norms and infrastructures. Today, in the context of the highly networked and fragmented mediated environment in which we live, radio continues to resist as a resilient space for autonomous, self-organized, collective or connective actions, opposing a neoliberal logic based on privatization, individualism and social atomization. This promise has never been so clear to me than during the last months, when our lives have been further fragmented. During the lockdown imposed on many countries as a response to the Covid-19 pandemics, many radio initiatives have spread around the world, relying on the potential of radio to bring our voices where our bodies could not go, to generate constellations of listeners and emitters, to make things collectively, to invent forms of togetherness, resistance or struggle in, through and out of the crisis. This selection gathers (in no particular order) some of the projects that have been most important to me in the last months: radios, podcasts and listening sessions that have accompanied me in my daily life, that have helped me to make sense of the present, to think collectively, to rediscover a social body and voice. In some cases, I have contributed to them; in most cases, I’ve been a loyal listener; sometimes, there have been resonances and interferences among them and the many other radio projects that I have inhabited, in one way or another, during this period of forced isolation.
Antivirus is an open, decentralized radio program: the response of the collective of artists and activists behind ∏node to the isolation generated by lockdown measures. Inspired by the principles of free and pirate radios, ∏node was created in 2013 following a rhizomatic model to collectivize radio broadcast and reception. Challenging the one-to-many relationship established by mass media via the multiplication of the points of broadcast and reception, ∏node allows the listeners to produce their own DIY program and to share it on its streaming platform, but also on micro-FM and DAB+ in Paris and Mulhouse. Since the day before the announcement of the lockdown in France, ∏node launched Antivirus to continue to be together, make networks and organize in times of "social distancing". During the weeks, the program has been fed collectively with different proposals and formats – concerts, series of interviews, seminars, readings, festivals, conferences and performances. After almost 100 days, it keeps broadcasting, the archives are immense and the network continues to grow thanks to the sessions of self-training in streaming tools organized by its members. “Confined of the world, unite!”
An initiative based in Italy, launched by a collective of artists and activists at Macao (a social centre in Milan) “to emerge from isolation and discover multitude”. Conceived on similar premises than those of Antivirus, Radiovirus “spreads voices” by inviting the listeners to contribute to the streams and by giving them the technical help and tools to make their radio programs. The first seeds of this collective project were planted on March 8, 2020 – the day of the international feminist strike – when the spread of the pandemics in Italy prevented the collective demonstrations planned in public space. The transfeminist collective Non una di meno in Milan didn’t renounce to struggle and organized S-Corteo, a series of offline and online initiatives, including a pirate radio: Radio Lottomarzo, an example of resistance to be together and militate in a situation of forced lockdown. This first experiment has later found continuity by converging with other social movements to give life to Radiovirus: a platform disseminated in the homes of the participants that socialises radio production by sharing autonomous tools, infrastructures and knowledge.
A podcast by Mattin & Miguel Prado “thinking aloud about the current events regarding COVID-19 while making sense of history as it happens. They let the unconscious improvise in this absolutely unexpected present, trying to render actual a no longer distant future”. During the weeks, they continue their exploration of the cultural, social, economical and political issues that the crisis generates by inviting other guests to join. These informal conversations wander from conspiracy theories to the “collective need of counter-bunker techniques”, from “survivalistic music in the age platform capitalism” to “miasmatic-fractal-Trump as a dark corona that is eating into us”. The podcast is ongoing and, in my view, constitutes a laboratory for thinking and sharing the questions and contradictions where we all live, suspended in a strange present haunted by a future that we are still not able to visualize.
L'Acentrale is “a radio network of struggles in FM, Webradio, DAB + and in the street”, a collective project conceived as “a tool for organization, information, and mutual aid”. It was born on the occasion of the first day of the strike against the pension reform in France, on December 5th, 2019, to create a common platform and connect the voices of social movements in France. During the following months, it covered the demonstrations via long-lasting broadcasts, animated from several cities and imagined collectively to amplify the struggles and the voices of the participants, activists and collectives. Following the lockdown measures, which prevented any demonstration in public space, Acentrale did not stop broadcasting. The collective conceived a series of radio shows each Saturday and Sunday afternoon to give voice to the new forms of conflict and struggle as well as to the networks of solidarity that are woven, in a less visible but structural and resilient manner, in the pandemic.
Oscillation: MayDay Radio Marathon
Oscillation is a festival produced by Q-O2 in Brussels and conceived by Julia Eckhardt, Caroline Profanter, Henry Andersen, Ludo Engels and Christel Simons. For its second edition, from April 30 to May 2, 2020, the festival was imagined as a radio marathon involving international artists such as pali meursault, Anna Raimondo, Gea Brown, Jasmine Guffond & Gloria González Fuster, Manfred Werder, Stephanie Quirola & Caroline Profanter, to name just a few. Considering radio as a privileged tool for autonomous and self-organized practice and dealing with a lack of funding, this year’s edition of Oscillation was already conceived in this form and focused “on the notion of value in art and cultural organisation beyond the monetary” as well as on collective and DIY practices. The lockdown measures nevertheless obliged the organisers to rethink its format in an online-only version that we can still listen to on Q-O2 soundcloud page.
Radio In Between Spaces
Radio in between spaces is a cooperation of ZAM Platform for Adventurous Music e.V. with Akademie der Künste der Welt, Academy of Media Arts Cologne, the Experimental Radio of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar and its projects bauhaus.fm and shift.fm. Launched on May 14th, 2020 this project leads an ear to the Global South and reflects on notions of hospitality, solidarity, emancipation, and activism through sound and radio. The program announces lectures, live performances, conversations, compositions, documentaries and radio plays that will be progressively broadcasted, starting from the first episode, on May 21, with Davide Tidoni’s Canta che non passa and Fernando Godoy & Rodrigo Ríos Zunino’s Radio Tsonami.
Radio Deseo is a radio station by Mujeres Creando: a feminist collective founded in 1992 in Bolivia to struggle against neoliberalism, patriarchy, homophobia, classism, racism and any other form of oppression. They define themselves as “un feminismo de luchas concretas” – “a feminism of concrete struggles” and one of the means they use is radio. A radio conceived as feminist in its contents and methods, therefore “open to an unlimited number of voices”. Radio Deseo invites anyone who shares its fundamental values to contribute by speaking in the first person. It focuses on art, culture, politics and the “promotion of voices”. During the crisis, Radio Deseo has continued its program with daily broadcasts by its members, including one of the founders: the activist and artist María Galindo. Despite the fact that my Spanish is really basic, her writings and interventions have given me a lot of materials to think about, nourishing my political imagination and utopian thinking. Finally they entered my own radio-making process in a radio show made with a group of friends for ∏node. “Radios are an unstoppable force because radio speaks to the people in the ear”.
Radio India is another Italian project, a whole theatre that transformed itself into a web-radio after its doors had to close because of the lockdown. The Teatro India’s resident artists and companies – Fabio Condemi, Dom-, Industria Indipendente, MK, Muta Imago with Daria Deflorian – united to give birth to a radio station with a daily program of broadcasts. The palimpsest was planned collectively in an open way, progressively inviting other people to join and stay together, take care of each other, feel the proximity and intimacy that radio can provide. Rather than simply “transplanting” theatre online, Radio India has been conceived as a way to keep building relationships with the public despite the social distancing measures and to “imagine new formats redefining the possible meaning of the word ‘theatre’”.
Lieviti, Radio Papesse
Lieviti, Art yeasts for home bakers is produced by Radio Papesse: an online audio archive as well as a radio platform focused on the production and promotion of experimental sound and radio founded in 2006 by Carola Haupt & Ilaria Gadenz and based in Florence. Started on April 28th, this podcast in 6 episodes uses the metaphor of one the most basic food preparation processes – leavening – to open a space for listening and raising questions on the suspended present where we live. While we all spend more time than ever cooking and baking, Radio Papesse proposes listening as a way of leavening our relationship to others and the world. At each episode, one theme – space, nature, time, body, identity and community – is deployed through one artwork and some invited guests to interrogate our spatial and dwelling practices in the lockdown, our bodily presence in a time of social distancing and networked relationships, or our perception of time in front of a complete loss of epistemological references and visions for the future.
Last but not least, nuit#couchée: a night dedicated to listening and radio on May 29th, 2020, from 7 p.m. until the morning. After 5 editions where the public was invited to spend the night, between waking and sleeping, lying on beds in a concert hall, this nuit#couchée had to abandon physical space to move on the airwaves. Therefore, it was broadcasted online and on a network of radios in France: + JET FM, Phaune radio, RadioKultura, radio Getaways, radio Campus Pau and Eko des Garrigues. At home, alone or in small groups, we found ourselves immersed in 15 hours of listening: a selection of sound works by international artists, orchestrated by Stéphane Garin and ensemble 0. This edition of nuit#couchée was “a sound photograph of the time we live in” strongly imbued with the present and its struggles, from the yellow vests to the feminist movements.
LIGNA, “The Future of Radio Art: a Monologue for a Broadcast voice,” in Open. Sound: Sound in Art and Culture, n. 9, 2005, pp. 110-109.
Most of the sentences in quotation marks are taken from the projects’ descriptions written by the artists/curators/programmers.
About Elena Biserna
Elena Biserna is a scholar and independent curator based in Marseille, France. She is associate researcher at PRISM (AMU /CNRS) and TEAMeD (Université Paris 8). Her interests are focused on listening and on contextual, time-based art practices in relationship with urban dynamics, socio-cultural processes, the public and political sphere. She has taught at ESAAix-École Supérieure d'Art d'Aix-en-Provence, Aix-Marseille University and the Academy of fine art of Bologna. She has given talks at different conferences, festivals and events and her articles and interviews have appeared in several international publications (Les Presses du Réel, Mimesis, Le Mot et le Reste, Errant Bodies, Amsterdam University Press, Cambridge Scholar, Castelvecchi, etc.) and journals. She co-curates the series La Membrane, the seminar Pratiques de l’écoute, écoute de pratiques at IMéRA Marseille and co-edits the column wi watt'heure of Revue & Corrigée with Carole Rieussec. As a curator, she worked with several organizations such as Locus Sonus (Aix-en-Provence), soundpocket (Hong Kong), Sant'Andrea degli Amplificatori (Bologna), Cona Zavod (Ljubljana), Xing (Bologna), Saout Radio and Sound Threshold (London).