24 May 2014

HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening at Casino Luxembourg – Forum d'art contemporain, May 17 - Sep 7

In the Old English word hlysnan, "to listen," the focus is on the notions of attention and intent. Similarly the emphasis in the project HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening lies on the active act not merely of hearing—usually referring to automatic or passive sound perception – but rather specifically on listening; hearing with intent.
Above: Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere, "What we might have heard in the future," 2010/2014. Radio drama. Installation view at Casino Luxembourg. © photo: Patrick Galbats.

Listening requires intensified concentration and attentiveness towards what one is listening to; it is linked to the notion of desire, anticipation and understanding, a striving for a possible meaning. HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening understands listening as agency, as gesture, as attitude and as taking a position. The  exhibition attempts to reconcile audio practices with contemporary social and political realities and invites the visitor to actively experience, listen and engage with the sense of hearing to the various complex interplays.

Curatored by Berit Fischer and Kevin Muhlen, the exhibition features artists Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Angie Atmadjaja, Kader Attia, Nina Beier & Marie Lund, Daniela Brahm & Les Schliesser, Peter Cusack, Clare Gasson, Marco Godinho, Christine Sun Kim, Brandon Labelle, Andra McCartney, John Menick, Angel Nevarez & Valerie Tevere, Udo Noll, Emeka Ogboh, Yoko Ono, Susan Schuppli & Tom Tlalim, Christine Sullivan & Rob Flint, and John Wynne.

Above: Sullivan and Flint, The Thing Is, performance at Motorcade / FlashParade in Bristol, 2012. © Thomas Heming.

Part of the investigations is for example the vocal gesture in specific situations like political speeches, legal and juridical contexts, or recording techniques and their impact in regard to documentation, writing and (re)creating history, and in the shaping of our culture and reality. The soundscapes and sonorous textures emanating from specific works presented in the exhibition may provoke immediate physical reactions, whereas other audible stimulus may address and question socio-political issues.

The 21st century, as much as contemporary exhibition making, is undeniably marked as an era of imagery and viewing. Despite many current exhibitions around the subject of sound in which the focus often lies on the visualisation of sound waves or the technicalities and materiality involved around it, HLYSNAN: The Notion and Politics of Listening departs from the representation and visual rendering of acoustic space and submits the auditory perception for consideration. Rather than displaying works destined for the eyes, the emphasis lies on the immaterial, the non-consumerist and the non-spectacle, in order to achieve a heightened concentration on the targeted sense.

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