A Return to Listening Into Placelessness, Listening Stations, and Untraining the Ear

With Shanti Suki Osman with the participation of Marlo de Lara

Revisiting Listening Sessions’ Untraining the Ear Sessions, Listening Stations refers to a mode and type of listening with our body as a station: a body which receives and processes sound. Rather placed than searching, rather stationed, we put attention to the unknown elements every place has and ask ourselves how we can grasp these elements. With the current reordering of our times, several aspects of our lives have been changed: speed, touch, and focus. While being subjected to restrictions, our closeness is being reorganized. This time may as well correspond to another change: reconnecting with our senses, closer to the unknown, to the invisible or the presumed to be inaudible.

‘Times have changed’ means: ‘this or that is no longer possible.’ And what a particular state of things readily presents as impossible is, quite simply, the possibility of changing the state of things.” (Jacques Rancière. The State of Things. (Office for Contemporary Art Norway, 2012).

LISTENING STATIONS on radio waves happens through acting around our devices both as emitters and listeners. In that placefulness, we encourage artists and audience to imagine the lines of time and language, to liquify them, as well the edges, the norms of the spaces they inhabit; and to curiously listen to communication as it unravels. Thus, to try this two-way communication over waves and streams in our terms. The physical distance between us – listeners, performers, organizers – allows for a particular crossover, giving the placelessness/fulness the potential of crossing in which irrespective of everyone’s devices, we can engage with what is broadcast. Domestication and democratisation are gates to waywardness out of the normativity of listening bodies.

In the frame of Listening Stations, Shanti Suki Osman presents A PERFECT FIT,  the third piece in her loose trilogy of live listening and sound performances concerning privilege and bias (The Hearing Test) and microaggressions and rage (Chipping Away). Combining storytelling, pre-recorded sounds, and intermittent instructions for the listeners, this extended piece for radio shifts the focus to questions of balancing power from a marginalised perspective, problematising “one-size inclusion fits all” and calling more attention to voices in unwanted spaces – listening to contradictions in occasional discomfort. The two other pieces of this trilogy are: The Hearing Test presented at EXP(L)O(RE) (The English Theater Berlin, 2018), an interactive sound performance based on instructions asking the audience to scrutinize habits in their auditory perception and unravel what may lay behind our tendencies and tastes; and Chipping Away, a radio piece presented at I AM NOT A FORTUNE COOKIE, (ACUD, 2018) centering the dangerous normalisation of many forms of discrimination causing an endemic of insidious racist behaviour in apparent “safe spaces”.

SHANTI SUKI OSMAN is a Berlin-based artist and educator working with song, sound and radio, exploring the topics of identities, privilege, anti-racism and feminisms. She is research associate and teacher for Musicology at Humboldt University and doctoral candidate for Music Pedagogy at The Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg focusing on women* of colour, sound-making and space-making. In Late Nights In Squat Bars she writes and sings feminist electro-pop with Dafne Della Dafne, and curates festivals and group shows – including the sound art exhibition and event series Hearing Now (Berlin June 2018). She was co-director of Die Remise (2019), a critical race and historical school project in Berlin founded by Carmen Mörsch, which was part of the preliminary programme of 11th Berlin Biennale (2019-20).

MARLO DE LARA’s artistic practice works within the realms of sound performance, visual distraction, and film. Working under the moniker “marlo eggplant”, her sound works are textural compositions which develop from microscopic tone landscapes into dense and expansive states of noise. Her works aim to blur the definitions of the (un)intentional and the myth of permanence. She received a PhD in the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies at the University of Leeds and an MA in Psychosocial Studies at the Centre of Psychoanalytic Studies at Essex. She recently was an Artist in Residence at the 2019 CalArts Summer Institute and a nominee for the 2019 Oram Awards PRS Foundation.