SESSION FOUR

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24.02.2018 | 10:00 – 19:00 | DANSMAKERS, AMSTERDAM

UNPACKING THE PROCESSES OF ARTISTIC KNOWLEDGE | SYMPOSIUM

Sonic Acts Academy is a new platform for speculation and reflection, focusing on critical examination of knowledge production in the field of art. It is an experimental setting free of institutional pressure and privileged classrooms, and it enables us to test and quickly react to changes in both form and content of what we should know. The Academy opts for an inclusive community; it involves those who resist or without access to the privileged spaces of academia. Today, more than ever, it is necessary to address the function of art and the artist and to expand the conversation to include the processes of the ‘decolonisation of thought’ – certainly one of the most critical factors in artistic practices today. By presenting artistic investigations and research – the processes that challenge the notions of the petrified world – Sonic Acts aims to include various dynamic perspectives to the podium. Together, we need to rethink how education can again become a tool for discovery and growth, for development and emancipation, and not just a machine that disseminates dominant modes of thinking. The Sonic Acts Academy Symposium will tackle some of these topics and present various artistic practices and perspectives.


10:00 – 10:30  |  Introductory Lecture  |  Susan Schuppli

Susan Schuppli returns to Sonic Acts in 2018 as our symposium respondent. She will introduce us to the Academy’s challenge of ‘unpacking the processes of artistic knowledge’. Gathering together threads that emerge during the symposium, Schuppli will be offering her thoughts and contextualising the talks and presentations as they relate back, in multiple ways, to the task of unpacking the processes of artistic knowledge.


10:30 – 10:40  |  Logistical Nightmares, an Introduction  |  Lorenzo Pezzani

Logistical Nightmares is a yearlong programme of events, workshops, pedagogical experiments, and field investigations. It is an initiative by the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths, University of London. The programme explores the increasing ubiquity and prominence of logistics as a model for organising social life and politics at a global scale. Lorenzo Pezzani, a head of the MA studio in Forensic Architecture, will host the programme. He will present some of the tutors, such as Charmaine Chua, and moderate a panel with the Research Architecture MA students from Goldsmiths.


11:20 – 12:00  |  Unless The Water Is Safer Than The Land  |  Centre for Research Architecture MA panel discussion + presentation

Over the course of four weeks, twenty MA students conducted in-depth research into Australia’s immigration policies and practices at sea, producing spatial and visual analysis that reveals a striking pattern of human rights violations taking place against asylum seekers. The students specifically looked into a series of cases of maritime interception, on-sea detention, and pushback operations that took place under the ongoing, military-led border security initiative Operation Sovereign Borders. In investigating and reconstructing these events, students developed creative forensic methodologies in an attempt to overcome the Australian government’s policy of ‘on-sea’ secrecy. The materials produced offer a strong indictment of the policies and practices put in place to deter people from arriving in Australia by boat and reveal how the latter sit in continuity with the longer histories of settler-colonial violence. Students of the Research Architecture MA studies from Goldsmiths will share their research in this panel, moderated by Lorenzo Pezzani.


10:40 – 11:20  |  ‘Indurable’ Monstrosities: Megaships, Megaports, and Transpacific Infrastructures of Violence  |  Lecture by Charmaine Chua

In the past decade, container ships have more than doubled in size as shipping carriers seek to capture economies of scale in transportation, fuel, and crew costs. In turn, the upsurge of megaships has placed intensified demands on global shipping networks, requiring ports to make perpetual and capital-intensive adaptations to their infrastructure, placing heavy demands on logistics labour, intensifying environmental damage, and generating a global shipping crisis of massive proportions. And yet, as ports struggle to catch up, ships keep getting bigger. By interrogating the interface between these two massive infrastructural projects through a case study of the ports of Singapore and Los Angeles, Charmaine Chua examines the irrational rationalities of obsessions with monstrosity in the logistics industry. In situating the growth of megaships and ports within the broader context of the rise of logistics, she argues that the material systems of global supply should be understood not as durable infrastructure — public works that stimulate local economic development — but as ‘indurable’ monstrosities that imprint the colonial violence of global circulation onto the lived spaces of vulnerable populations.


12:00 – 13:00  |  AAA Cargo: Notes from the Undercurrent  |  Artist’s presentation by Solveig Suess

The planetary-scale ambitions of the New Silk Road are drawing new geometries across vast regions between China and Europe. Mapping these constellations through footage, interviews, field recordings, and found WeChat videos, this lecture-performance features excerpts from Solveig Suess’s recent documentary AAA Cargo (2017). While the New Silk Road imaginary evokes a liquid and mobile world of commodity exchange, following fissures along these distribution networks, AAA Cargo encounters political infrastructures generating closures as much as openings, stasis as much as flow.


17:30 – 19:00  | This Is Not a Hole: Sinkholes in Signification  |  Screening + presentation by Sasha Litvinseva + Daniel Mann

This presentation by Sasha Litvintseva and Daniel Mann includes the screening of their new film Salarium (41 min, 2017). Departing from the etymological derivation of both ‘salary’ and ‘soldier’ from ‘salt’, Salarium captures the entanglement of economic, military, and geological forces, which manifests in the figure of the sinkhole. Thousands of sinkholes are today perforating the shores of the Dead Sea in Israel and Palestine. What Zionists once called a ‘natural treasure’ to attract tourism and investment, is today a dilapidating site erected on unstable grounds. The sinkhole appears as both a visible symptom and active cause of a colonial project’s failure to instrumentalise nature.


Images © Pieter Kers. Sonic Acts Academy 2018.