Allanah Stewart is an artist from Aotearoa/New Zealand, currently living in Melbourne, Australia. As well as her work in various experimental music projects, she is the presenter of a monthly podcast radio programme called Enquiring Minds, hosted by Noods radio, which explores old and new, lesser known and well known sounds that loosely fit under the banner of experimental music.
Jen Callaway is a Melbourne musician, sound and performance artist, photographer, and community services worker raised in various parts of Tasmania. Current projects include bands Is There a Hotline?, Propolis, Snacks and Hi God People; and upcoming film Here at the End, by Campbell Walker, as actor/co-writer.
Isha Ram Das is a composer and sound artist primarily concerned with ecologies of environment and culture. He works with experimental sound techniques to produce performances, installations and recordings. He was the 2019 recipient of the Lionel Gell Award for Composition, and has scored feature-length films and nationally-touring theatre installations. He has performed at institutions such as the Sydney Opera House; Black Dot Gallery, Melbourne; Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Metro Arts, Brisbane; Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and Boxcopy, Brisbane.
Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, artist, scholar and curator, He is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is author of Hungry Listening, Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies, published by University of Minnesota Press.
Megan Cope is a Quandamooka woman (North Stradbroke Island) in South East Queensland. Her site-specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and mapping practices. Cope’s work often resists prescribed notions of Aboriginality and becomes psychogeographies across various material outcomes that challenge the grand narrative of ‘Australia’ as well as our sense of time and ownership in a settler colonial state.
Australian musician Sean Baxter died on 15 March 2020. Part of Melbourne's improv scene, he is described by musician Anthony Pateras as possessing “a unique aesthetic vision and intellectual depth, mixing highbrow philosophical concepts with punk sensibilities in how he lived, spoke and played. He was pure energy.”
Drumkit and percussionist, Sean was an Australian improviser who forged an international reputation as a bold explorer of percussive possibilities both as a soloist and through his work with the acclaimed avant-garde trio, Pateras/Baxter/Brown. Focusing on the use of extended techniques applied to the conventional drum kit, he utilised an arsenal of metallic junk and other percussive detritus to expand the sonic palette of the percussion tradition. In addition to Pateras/Baxter/Brown, he was involved in many collaborations and was drummer for groups The Throwaways, Bucketrider, Lazy, SxSxSx and Terminal Hz.
Thomas Ragnar is an artist based in Singapore. His work is often underpinned by collaborations, affinities and research with experiential methodologies.
Alessandro Bosetti is an Italian composer, performer and sound artist, currently based in Marseille. His work delves into the musicality of spoken language, utilising misunderstandings, translations and interviews as compositional tools. His works for voice and electronics blur the line between electro-acoustic composition, aural writing and performance.
Lin Chi-Wei is a legend of Taiwanese sonic art, whose practice incorporates folklore culture, noise, ritual, and audience participation.
Mat Dryhurst is an artist who releases music and artworks solo and in conjunction with Holly Herndon and the record label PAN. Dryhurst developed the decentralised publishing framework Saga, which enables creators to claim ownership of each space in which their work appears online, and a number of audio plays that derive their narrative from the personal information of listeners. He lectures on issues of music, technology, and ideology at NYU, and advises the blockchain-based platform co-operative Resonate.is.
Sean Dockray is an artist, writer, and programmer living in Melbourne whose work explores the politics of technology, with a particular emphasis on artificial intelligences and the algorithmic web. He is also the founding director of the Los Angeles non-profit Telic Arts Exchange, and initiator of knowledge-sharing platforms, The Public School and Aaaaarg.
Author of Hearing the Cloud (Zero Books), Emile Frankel is a writer and composer researching the changing conditions of online listening. In his spare time he runs the Sci-Fi and critical fantasy publisher Formling.
Bridget Chappell is a raver and theory bro currently living on the unceded nations of the Latji Latji and Nyeri Nyeri people. They make music as Hextape and organise parties in drains, observatories, and other natural amphitheatres. They founded and run Sound School, work with young musicians behind bars, and make experimental sound technologies to challenge police sirens.
Holly Herndon experiments at the outer reaches of dance music and pop. Born in Tennessee, Herndon spent her formative years in Berlin’s techno scene and repatriated to San Francisco, where she completed her PhD at Stanford’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Her albums include Platform (2015) and Proto (2019).
Candice Hopkins is a curator, writer and researcher interested in history, art and indigeneity, and their intersections. Originally from Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Hopkins is a citizen of Carcross/Tagish First Nation. She was senior curator for the 2019 Toronto Biennial of Art, and worked on the curatorial teams for the Canadian Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale, and documenta 14.
Raven Chacon is a composer, performer and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. His work ranges from chamber music to experimental noise, to large scale installations, produced solo and with the Indigenous art collective Postcommodity. At California Institute of the Arts, Chacon studied with James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro and Wadada Leo Smith developing a compositional language steeped in both the modernist avant-garde and Indigenous cosmologies and subjectivities. He has written for ensembles, musicians and non-musicians, and for social and educational situations, and toured the world as a noise artist.
Lisa Lerkenfeldt is a multi-disciplinary artist working in sound, gesture and performance. Central to her practice is languages of improvisation and intimacy with technology. Traces of a personal discipline and form of graphic notation are introduced in the online exhibition 14 Gestures. The associated recorded work Collagen (Shelter Press, 2020) disrupts the role of the common hair comb through gesture and sound.
Haroon Mirza is an artist who intertwines his practice with the role of composer. Mirza considers electricity his main medium and creates atmospheric environments through the linking together of light, sound, music, videos and elements of architecture. Regularly showing internationally in group and solo exhibitions, Mirza’s work has also been included in the 7th Shenzhen Sculpture Biennale, China (2012) and the 54th Venice Biennale, Italy (2011), where he was awarded the Silver Lion.
Shanghai native 33EMYBW (Wu Shanmin) has been an active member in the Chinese music scene for over a decade. She has also performed at CTM and Sinotronics in Germany, China Drifting Festival in Switzerland, and SXSW. Her 2018 album Golem, released on SVBKVLT, was met with critical acclaim and voted one of the best electronic albums of 2018 by Bandcamp. In 2019 she released DONG2 EP under Merrie Records Beijing, and will premiere her sophomore album Arthropods (SVBKVLT) at Unsound 2019.
Alexander Garsden is a Melbourne-based composer, guitarist and electroacoustic musician, working across multiple exploratory musical disciplines. Recent work includes commissions from the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Speak Percussion, Michael Kieran Harvey and Eugene Ughetti; alongside performances with artists including Tetuzi Akiyama (Japan), Oren Ambarchi, Radu Malfatti (Austria), Julia Reidy, David Stackenäs (Sweden), and with Erkki Veltheim and Rohan Drape. From 2014 to 2019 Garsden was Co-Director of the INLAND Concert Series. He has taught through RMIT University and the University of Melbourne.
Annika Kristensen is Senior Curator at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne.
Arben Dzika is an artist whose practice involves working with various media including, but not limited to: sound, image, word, and performance. His work primarily seeks to reflect on, interrogate, and play with technologies, systems, and human senses. Within his practice, he works as a producer and DJ under the moniker, Dilae.
Audrey Schmidt is a writer and editor based in Melbourne, Australia. She is a regular contributor to Memo Review, co-editor the third issue of Dissect Journal, and has written for various publications including Art Monthly, Art + Australia and un Magazine. She co-founded Minority Report with Adam Hammad in 2018 and released one online issue that was available until the domain expired in 2019. Audrey sits on the FYTA (GR) Board of Advisors.
Autumn Royal is a poet, researcher, and educator based in Narrm/Melbourne. Autumn’s current research examines elegiac expression in contemporary poetry. Autumn is the interviews editor for Cordite Poetry Review, and author of the poetry collections She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016) and Liquidation (Incendium Radical Library, 2019).
Bianca Winataputri is a Melbourne-based independent curator and writer researching contemporary practice in Southeast Asia, and relationships between individuals and collectives in relation to history, globalisation, identity and community building. Currently working at Regional Arts Victoria, Bianca was previously Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGA. She holds a BA (University of Melbourne), and BA Honours from the ANU where she received the Janet Wilkie Prize for Art. In 2018 Bianca was selected for 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s Curators’ Intensive.
Brian Hioe was one of the founding editors of New Bloom, an online magazine covering activism and youth politics in Taiwan and the Asia Pacific, founded in 2014 in the wake of the Sunflower Movement. Hioe is a freelance writer on social movements and politics, as well as an occasional translator.
Chi Tran is a writer, editor, and an artist who makes poems that may be text, video, object, sound, or drawing. Chi is primarily interested in working with language as a means of coming-to-terms. Their work has been published by Incendium Radical Library Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Australian Poetry and Liminal Magazine and exhibited at galleries including Firstdraft, Sydney; Punk Café, Melbourne; and ACCA, Melbourne. In 2019, as a recipient of The Ian Potter Cultural Trust Fund, Chi spent three months in New York developing their practice with renowned poets including Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Fred Moten, and Jackie Wang.
Chun Yin Rainbow Chan is a Hong Kong–Australian artist, living in Sydney. Working across music, performance and installation, Rainbow is interested in the copy and how the ways in which it can disrupt Western notions of ownership. Central to Rainbow's work is the circulation of knock-off objects, sounds and images in global media. Her work positions the counterfeit as a complex sign that shapes new myths, values and contemporary commodity production.
Dale Gorfinkel is a musician-artist whose stylefree improvisational approach informs his performances, instrument-building, and kinetic sound installations. Aiming to reflect an awareness of the dynamic nature of culture and the value of listening as a mode of knowing people and places, Dale is interested in bringing creative communities together and shifting perceived boundaries. Current projects include Prophets, Sounds Like Movement, and Music Yared as well as facilitating Art Day South, an inclusive arts studio with Arts Access Victoria.
Danni Zuvela is a curator and writer based in Melbourne and the Gold Coast. Her research is informed by interests in feminism, activism, ecology, language and performance. With Joel Stern, Danni has led Liquid Architecture as Artistic Director, and continues to develop curatorial projects for the organisation.
Eric Avery is a Ngiyampaa, Yuin, Bandjalang and Gumbangirr artist. As part of his practice Eric plays the violin, dances and composes music. Working with his family’s custodial songs he seeks to revive and continue on an age old legacy – continuing the tradition of singing in his tribe – utilising his talents to combine and create an experience of his peoples culture.
Fjorn Butler is an artist, researcher, and event organiser. As an artist, she works primarily in sound and performance under the name Papaphilia. As a researcher, she interrogates how biological discourses are used in neoliberal/colonial governance structures to shape the political. Fjorn's research informs her writing on sound-poetics and the challenges this framework poses to anglophone notions of property. She is also co-director of Future Tense and co-curator of Writing and Concepts.
Freya Schack-Arnott is an Australian/Danish cellist who enjoys a multi-faceted career as a soloist and ensemble performer of classical and contemporary repertoire, curator and improviser within experimental music, electronics, popular and cross-disciplinary art forms. Schack-Arnott regularly performs with Australia's leading new music ensembles, including ELISION Ensemble (as core member) and Ensemble Offspring. Her curatorial roles include co-curator/founder of the regular 'Opus Now' music series and previous curator of the NOW Now festival and Rosenberg Museum.
Gooooose (Han Han) is an electronic music producer, visual artist and software developer based in Shanghai, China. His current releases include They (D Force, 2017), Dong 1 (D Force, 2018), Pro Rata (ANTE-RASA, 2019). Gooooose's 2019 SVBKVLT–released RUSTED SILICON received positive reviews from media including boomkat, Resident Advisor, Dusted Magazine, and The Wire. Gooooose has performed live at CTM (Berlin, 2018), Nyege Nyege (Kampala, 2019), Soft Centre (Sydney, 2019), Unsound (Kraków, 2019) and Recombinant (San Francisco, 2019).
Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father/A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.
James Rushford is an Australian composer-performer who holds a doctorate from the California Institute of the Arts, and was a 2018 fellow at Academy Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart. His work is drawn from a familiarity with specific concrète, improvised, avant-garde and collagist languages. Currently, his work deals with the aesthetic concept of musical shadow. James has been commissioned as a composer by ensembles including the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (Glasgow), and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and regularly performs in Australia and internationally.
Jessica Aszodi is an Australian-born, London-based vocalist who has premiered many new pieces, performed work that has lain dormant for centuries, and sung roles ranging from standard operatic repertoire to artistic collaborations. She has been a soloist with ensembles including ICE; the Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide Symphony Orchestras; and San Diego and Chicago Symphony Orchestras’ chamber series. Aszodi can be heard on numerous recordings and has sung in festivals around the world. She holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts from the Queensland Conservatorium, an MFA from the University of California, and is co-director of the Resonant Bodies Festival (Australia), and artistic associate of BIFEM.
Kt Spit (Katie Collins) is an artist and musician based in Narrm (Melbourne). Lyrically and visually her work explores subcultural narratives and challenges dominant representations of loss, grief, and true love. In 2015 Kt independently released her debut album, Combluotion, and in 2019 will release a visual album entitled Kill the King.
The Convoy conjure illustrious soundscapes from the abyss of chaos, revealing hidden worlds of the imagination as the performance takes form and infuses with subjective experience. Using instruments of sound, light and smell, The Convoy enchant space with themes of tension, evolution, entropy and regeneration. Sensorial immersion transports audiences through highly dynamic environments that shift and blend into one single, breathing moment. As entity, rather than singular, Immy Chuah is a guest within The Convoy on unceded land.
I’m interested in what can be done with one’s identity and the space around it. Both my body and mind, touching everyday feelings between the rational, the playful and the political. Of course, this is often to do with my disability and my sexuality. My work has been focused on access, and the lack of it — to places, people’s minds and opportunities. I find plasticine is a great subverter of space and potentially of people’s minds. And the continued flexibility of it is something I am really enjoying — covering or filling up gaps and playing with crevices. But I’m finding that my work is drawing more and more to spoken word as a powerful format.
Sarah McCauley is a Melbourne-based music producer, editor and writer.
Neil Morris is a Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung man. He is well known in Narrm/Birraranga for his musical project DRMNGNOW, a project built on subject matter tackling the colonial nature of the Australian construct and how that affects contemporary society upon this land. The work is unapologetic, clear, and deeply poetic. It hints toward Morris's extensive experience as a spoken word artist in Narrm since 2015. Morris's work is triumphant in the face of severe adversity often imbued in a quite fortified melancholy, a powerful marker of the survival of First Nations peoples in the now.
Natasha Tontey is an artist and graphic designer based in Yogyakarta. She is interested in exploring the concept of fiction as a method of speculative thinking. Through her artistic practice she investigates the idea of how fear, horror, and terror could be manifested in order to control the public and how fictional accounts of the history and myth surrounding ‘manufactured fear’ might operate as a method of speculative fiction that determines expectations for the future.
Mat Spisbah is a New Media curator with a unique portfolio of programming that seeks to integrate non-traditional artistic methods and emerging technologies. Having lived in Hong Kong for 14 years, he is connected to the region’s art and culture, and has created professional networks with artists, curators, galleries, promoters and industry professionals across Australasia. Portfolio highlights include the debut Australian performances of north Asian artists including: Howie Lee, Rui Ho, Meuko Meuko, Pan Daijing, Alex Zhang Hungtai, Tzusing, and Gabber Modus Operandi.
Mandy Nicholson is a Wurundjeri-willam (Wurundjeri-baluk patriline) artist and Traditional Custodian of Melbourne and surrounds. Mandy also has connections to the Dja Dja wurrung and Ngurai illam wurrung language groups of the Central/Eastern Kulin Nation. Mandy gained a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Aboriginal Archaeology in 2011, worked for the Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages for six years and is now a PhD candidate studying how Aboriginal people connect to Country, Off Country.
Lucreccia Quintanilla is an artist, writer, DJ and PhD candidate researcher at Monash University. Her writing and art have been published and exhibited both within Australia and internationally. Quintanilla’s practice is a collaborative one that manifests into outcomes within galleries and also as events and performances outside of that context. She regularly speaks at panels and symposiums on themes within her research, has received grants for her projects and residencies, and has taught at university level.
Amanda Stewart is a poet, author, and vocal artist. She has created a diverse range of publications, performances, film and radio productions in Australia, Europe, Japan, and the USA, working in literature, new music, broadcasting, theatre, dance, and new media environments. Amanda collaborated with Chris Mann for many years in the Australian ensemble, Machine For Making Sense (with Jim Denley, Rik Rue, and Stevie Wishart), as well as in other contexts. Her poem ‘ta’ was written in honour of Chris Mann’s extraordinary vision and work.
Holly Childs is an artist and writer. Her research involves filtering stories of computation through frames of ecology, earth, memory, poetry, and light. She is the author of two books: No Limit (Hologram, Melbourne) and Danklands (Arcadia Missa, London), and she collaborates with Gediminas Žygus on ‘Hydrangea’. She is currently writing her third book, What Causes Flowers Not to Bloom?.
Ivy Alvarez’s poetry collections include The Everyday English Dictionary, Disturbance, and Mortal. Her latest is Diaspora: Volume L (Paloma Press, 2019). A Fellow of MacDowell Colony (US), and Hawthornden (UK), her work is widely published and anthologised (twice in Best Australian Poems), with poems translated into Russian, Spanish, Japanese and Korean. Born in the Philippines and raised in Australia, she lived in Wales for almost a decade, before arriving in New Zealand in 2014.
Nick Ashwood is a guitarist, composer, improviser and performer from Nipaluna/Tasmania now residing in Sydney. His focuses have been exploring deep listening, harmonic space and the possibilities of the steel-string acoustic guitar by means of preparations, just intonation, objects and bowing.
Berlin-based composer-performer Johnny Chang engages in extended explorations surrounding the relationships of sound/listening and the in-between areas of improvisation, composition and performance. Johnny is part of the Wandelweiser composers collective and currently collaborates with: Catherine Lamb (Viola Torros project), Mike Majkowski (illogical harmonies), Phill Niblock, Samuel Dunscombe, Derek Shirley and others.
Megan Alice Clune shifts between musician, composer and artist. Primarily, her work explores both the concept and aesthetics of ambient music through sound installation, collaboration and performance. Megan is the founding member of the Alaska Orchestra, and has presented work and undertaken residencies across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America, including the Bang on a Can Summer Music Festival (MA), Next Wave Festival, Underbelly Arts Festival, Performa 15 (NYC) and VividLIVE at the Sydney Opera House.
Andrew Fedorovitch is compos mentis. Andrew Fedorovitch embodies professionalism in every aspect of his life, including music.
Shota is an artist working in Australia. He makes sound-based works for varying contexts. He has had the opportunity to collaborate with a multitude of artists from varying disciplines. Shota is currently an honours student who is associated with the Plant ecophysiology and Ecosystem processes lab at the University of Sydney.
Sonya Holowell is a Dharawal woman, vocalist, composer and writer working across new and experimental genres. The contexts for her work, and the forms they take, are diverse and deeply questioning. Her practice comprises interdisciplinary collaboration, improvisation, multi-form writing and conceptual composition. She is also a workshop facilitator; a curator of the Now Now Festival; lecturer in experimental vocal practice; and a co-founder/editor of online arts publication ADSR Zine.
Alexandra Spence is an artist and musician living on Gadigal country in Sydney, Australia. She makes installations, compositions and performances based on (everyday) sound and listening. Through her practice she attempts to reimagine the intricate relationships between the listener, the object, and the surrounding environment as a kind of communion or conversation. She has a current, near-spiritual, obsession with the animation of material and object through sound. Alex has performed and presented work on radio, in concerts, festivals, symposiums and galleries worldwide, and has two releases: Waking, She Heard The Fluttering, with Room40, and Immaterial, with Longform Editions.
MP Hopkins is an artist based in Sydney, Australia, that is concerned with how to record voices that are not really there, and ways to make voices that are there not sound like voices. He makes audio recordings, performances, and texts.
Joel Stern is a curator, researcher, and artist living and working on Wurundjeri land in Melbourne, Australia. He has been Artistic Director of Liquid Architecture since 2013. In 2018, with critical legal scholar James Parker, Stern curated Eavesdropping, an expansive project addressing the ‘politics of listening’ through work by artists, researchers, writers, detainees and activists from Australia and around the world.
Georgia Hutchison is a cultural development practitioner and arts executive in Naarm/Melbourne, and Executive Director/CEO of Liquid Architecture. Her practice as an artist, educator, organiser and strategist crosses contemporary art, music, design and social justice.
Rob Thorne (Ngāti Tumutumu) is a new and original voice in the evolving journey of Taonga Puoro. His debut album Whāia te Māramatanga (Rattle Records) is a deeply felt and highly concentrated conversation between the past and the present—a musical passage of identity and connection. Using modern loop technology and traditional Māori flutes and horns made from stone, bone, shell and wood, Thorne creates a transcendent aural experience that touches the soul with timeless beauty. Every performance of Whāia te Māramatanga is a stunning and very personal exploration of the spiritual and healing qualities of an ancient practice.
Michiko Ogawa is a performer-composer specialising in the clarinet, born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She performs not only classical repertoire but also contemporary and experimental music, including free improvisation and film soundtrack work. In 2019 she was awarded a doctorate (DMA) from the University of California San Diego, with a dissertation focusing on the film music of Teiji Ito. She is in the beginning stages of writing a biography of Ito’s life.
Curious about the tender intersections between art, life and friendships, Emma Nixon is an emerging curator and writer. In 2018 she completed a Bachelor of Art History and Curating at Monash University and co-founded Cathedral Cabinet ARI in the Nicholas Building. In Melbourne she has curated and written about exhibitions that investigate subjects such as abstraction, the domestic, care and collage within contemporary art.
Fayen d’Evie is an artist and writer, based in Muckleford, Australia. Her projects are often conversational and collaborative, and resist spectatorship by inviting audiences into sensorial readings of artworks. Fayen advocates the radical potential for blindness, arguing that blindness offers critical positions and methods attuned to sensory translations, ephemerality, the tangible and the intangible, concealment, uncertainty, the precarious, and the invisible. With artist Katie West, Fayen co-founded the Museum Incognita, which revisits neglected or obscured histories through scores that activate embodied readings. Fayen is also the founder of 3-ply, which investigates artist-led publishing as an experimental site for the creation, dispersal, translation, and archiving of texts.
Debris Facility Pty Ltd is a para-corporate entity who engages im/material contexts with the view to highlight and disrupt administrative forms and their embedded power relations. Deploying print, design, installation, and wearables as the most visible parts of operations, they also work in experimental pedagogy and perforated performance of labour. They are a white-settler parasite with theft and dispossession as the implicated ground from which they work. They currently hold contracts with Liquid Architecture, Victorian College of the Arts, Monash University and Debris Facility Pty Ltd.
Timmah Ball is a writer and urban researcher of Ballardong Noongar descent. She has written for The Griffith Review, Right Now, Meanjin, Overland, Westerly, Art Guide Australia, Assemble Papers, The Big Issue, The Lifted Brow, the Victorian Writer magazine and won the Westerly Patricia Hackett Prize for writing.
Jessie Scott is a practising video artist, writer, programmer and producer who works across the spectrum of screen culture in Melbourne. She is a founding member of audiovisual art collective Tape Projects, and co-directed and founded the inaugural Channels Video Art Festival in 2013.
Christopher L G Hill is an artist, poet, anarchist, collaborator, facilitator, lover, friend, DJ, performer, sound pervader, publisher of Endless Lonely Planet, co-label boss; Bunyip trax, traveller, homebody, dancer, considerate participator, dishwasher, writer, bencher, eater, exhibitor: Sydney, Physics Room, Westspace, TCB, BUS, Punk Cafe,100 Grand street, Lismore Regional Gallery, Good Press, Gambia Castle, Conical, GCAS, NGV, VCA, Mission Comics, Slopes, Art Beat, Papakura Gallery, Neon Parc, UQ Gallery, Tate Modern, Connors Connors, Glasgow International, Sandy Brown, OFLUXO, New Scenarios, Margaret Lawrence, Flake, Utopian Slumps, World Food Books, Sutton, Rearview, Joint Hassles, a basement, a tree, Innen publications, SAM, Chateau 2F, etc, and tweeter, twitcher, sleeper, Biennale director (‘Melbourne Artist initiated’ 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2018-20), DJ, retired gallerist Y3K, conversationalist who represents them self and others, born Melbourne/Narrm 1980c.e, lives World.
Iliass Saoud was born in Halba, Lebanon in 1960 as the sixth of eight children of Wakim and Nadima Saoud. Escaping the Lebanese Civil War in 1977, Iliass migrated to Canada pursued a BA in Mathematics from Dalhouse University in 1982. In 1987 he married Janice Joseph (Fakhry) before settling in Australia to raise his family in 1997, owning a variety of small businesses including the Gaffney Street post office across from the Lincoln Mill’s Centre in Coburg from 2005-2011. Currently, Iliass works part time at a local newsagency and is an avid Bridge player and a dedicated grandfather of one.
Dimitri Troaditis works in the Greek-Australian media. As a poet he has been extensively published in Greece and in Australia in numerous literary journals, websites, blogs and anthologies. He has published six poetry collections and two social history books so far. He has organised poetry readings in Melbourne for years and translates others’ poetry. He runs poetry website To Koskino and was a resident of Coburg for 19 years.
Luisa Lana was born in Australia in 1953. Her mother Nannina had arrived in Australia in 1950 with a 3 month old son, and worked for many years on the sewing room floors and her father Angelo worked on the docks where he helped unionise the Italian workforce. Luisa and her brother were latchkey kids, as they looked after themselves in the morning and ran the ‘Continental’ deli in the evenings. Luisa attained a teaching degree, then a postgrad in Social Sciences, and twice studied Italian at The University for Foreigners in Perugia, Italy. Luisa married Luigino Lana, a Venetian migrant who operated a mechanic business in Brunswick for over 30 years. She devoted her life to being an educator and a mother, teaching Italian to English speakers and English to generations of migrants from around the world. Currently Luisa is translating her father's memoirs from Italian to English, and enjoying being a Nonna.
Anabelle Lacroix is a French-Australian curator, writer and radio contributor. Working independently in Paris, she is based at Fondation Fiminco for a year-long residency focused on the politics of sleeplessness (2020). She has a broad practice, and a current interest in experimental practice, working with performance, sound, discourse and publishing. She is a PhD candidate at UNSW Art & Design.
Geoff Robinson is a Melbourne-based artist working on Wurundjeri country. Robinson creates event-based artworks that utilise the temporal qualities of sound and performance and the spatial conditions of physical sites to unravel the durational layers of place. Robinson has presented projects with Titanik, Turku; Bus Projects, Melbourne; Liquid Architecture, Melbourne; and MoKS, Mooste, Estonia. He was awarded the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2014 and completed the PhD project Durational Situation at MADA, Monash University, Melbourne, 2018.
Mattin is a cross disciplinary artist working with noise, improvisation and dissonance. His work Social Dissonance was presented at documenta 14 in 2017 in Kassel and Athens.
Elena Biserna is a scholar and independent curator based in Marseille (France), working at the intersection of social, political and public spheres.
Tobi Maier is the director of Lisbon’s Municipal Galleries, and recently presented Mattin’s Expanding Concert (2019–2023) a four year long concert distributed in time and space through different media: 5 public interventions in 5 different galleries in Lisbon, and 5 texts published within the city.
Clare Milledge is an artist and academic, she lives and works between the lands of the Arakwal people in Bundjalung country (Broken Head, Northern NSW) and the lands of the Bidjigal and Gadigal people (Paddington, Sydney). She is a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design and is represented by STATION gallery.
Alexander Powers is a choreographer, performer and DJ from Naarm. In 2019 they premiered their first full length choreographic work Time Loop at the Melbourne Fringe Festival, receiving the Temperance Hall Award at the Fringe Awards. Under the moniker Female Wizard, they are known internationally for their forward-thinking DJ sets. They’ve performed at Golden Plains, Dark Mofo, Boiler Room, Hybrid Festival and Soft Centre and held a four year residency at Le Fag.
Zoe Scoglio’s (often collaborative) practice explores the space of art as a site of study and sociality to engage the radical imagination towards alternative ways of being, knowing and relating. Current research takes critical and collective somatic approaches towards response-ability in these times of ecological collapse, within settler colonial conditions. Past projects have taken place within varied contexts, on top of mountains and under full moons, as large collective choreographies and intimate encounters.
Tricky Walsh is a non-binary artist working in New Norfolk, Tasmania, who works both collaboratively and in a solo capacity. Their projects focus on both spatial and communication concerns in an increasingly speculative manner and while they use a diversity of media (architecture, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, sound, film, comics, radio) it is foremost the concept at hand that determines which form of material experimentation occurs within these broader themes.
Kengné Téguia is a Black Deaf HIV+ cyborg artist, who works from sound deafinitely. #TheBLACKRevolutionwillbeDEAFinitelyLoud
Angela Goh is a dancer and choreographer. Her work poses possibilities for disruption and transformation inside the aesthetics and conditions of technocapitalism, planetarity, and the post-anthropocene. She lives and works in Sydney, and has toured her work across Australia, Europe, the UK, the USA and Asia. She received the 2020 Keir Choreographic Award and the inaugural Sydney Dance Company Beyond the Studio Fellowship 2020-21.
Jannah Quill’s deconstructive exploration of electronic instruments and technologies manifests in electronic music production and experimental audio-visual performance and installation. Jannah modifies existing technologies (such as solar panels) into innovative light-to-audio systems, used with software/hardware experimentation and modular synthesis to carve a distinct voice in electronic music and art.
Tom Smith is a Melbourne-based artist, musician and researcher whose work combines video assemblages, experimental performance, speculative fiction, electronic music, websites and critical writing. Tom’s work is concerned with the politics and poetics of computational systems, the contradictions of creative economies, generic digital aesthetics and music as a mode of critical inquiry. Tom is also one half of music production duo Utility, and runs an independent record label called Sumactrac with Jarred Beeler (DJ Plead) and Jon Watts.
Pris Roos grew up in Rhenen, the Netherlands. Her family migrated from Bogor, Indonesia, to start their own toko in the Netherlands. Toko is the Indonesian word for shop, and they sell non-Western food (products). Roos grew up in the toko, a space of being together, and full of colours, smells, food, stories and images of immigrants. The toko is a source of inspiration for her artistic practices. Stories that are normally not heard find their way in her works. Roos makes portraits of immigrants that she meets in the toko, on the streets or in her surroundings of the South of Rotterdam. She visits them at home or invites them to her atelier. The stories are translated into painted portraits, videos, installations and spoken word performances.
Winnie Dunn is a Tongan-Australian writer and arts worker from Mt Druitt. She is the general manager of Sweatshop: Western Sydney Literacy Movement and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Sydney University. Winnie’s work has been published in the HuffPost Australia, The Saturday Paper, Griffith Review, Meanjin Quarterly, SBS Voices and Cordite. She is the editor of several anthologies including Sweatshop Women, The Big Black Thing and Bent Not Broken. Winnie is currently completing her debut novel as the recipient of a 2019 CAL Ignite Grant.
Jon Watts is a Melbourne/Naarm based musician, designer, 3D artist and animator. His music has been released through cult labels SUMAC and Butter Sessions, and he is currently Senior Multimedia Installer at the National Gallery of Victoria.
Pan-Pan Kolektiva was established in March 2020, as a research group on listening. Pan-Pan is a standard emergency call based on the acronym Pan which stands for Pay Attention Now.
Nathan Gray is an artist whose recent works use voice as their medium, taking form as lecture-performances, radio-plays and documentaries, DJ sets, narrative and rumour.
makik markie yammamoroto
Leighton Craig is an artist living in Meanjin/Brisbane. He has been in a number of bands (The Lost Domain, G55, The Deadnotes et al) and is currently a member of the duo Primitive Motion with Sandra Selig.
Anne Zeitz is associate professor at University Rennes 2. Her research focuses on aural attention, the inaudible, the unheard, and the polyphony in contemporary art. She directed the research project 'Sound Unheard' and she co-organised the eponymous exhibition at the Goethe-Institut Paris, Paris and exhibition 'Échos magnétiques” at the MBA Rennes, Rennes in 2019.
Melissa Johnson is Associate Professor of Art History & Visual Culture at Illinois State University (Normal, IL). Her scholarly research focuses on the histories of craft and its intersections with modern and contemporary art. She is currently working on a project that explores artists making work in response to the writings of Virginia Woolf. She’s deeply interested in situating her academic writing and her textile-based work as parallel practices, and is working on two writing and textile projects, “Woolf Words” and “Haptic Investigations,” and a project on mending and repair.
Diego Ramirez makes art, writes about culture, and labours in the arts. In 2018, he showed his video work in a solo screening by ACCA x ACMI and he performed in Lifenessless at West Space x Gertrude Contemporary in 2019. His work has been shown locally and internationally at MARS Gallery, ACMI, Westspace, Torrance Art Museum, Hong-Gah Museum, Careof Milan, Buxton Cotntemporary, WRO Media Art Biennale, Human Resources LA, Art Central HK, Sydney Contemporary, and Deslave. His words feature in Art and Australia, NECSUS, un Projects, Runway Journal, Art Collector, and Australian Book Review. He is represented by MARS Gallery, Editor-at-large at Running Dog and Gallery Manager at SEVENTH.
Noemie Cecilia Huttner-Koros is a queer Jewish performance-maker, writer, dramaturg, poet, teaching artist and community organiser living and working on Whadjuk Noongar country in Boorloo (Perth). Her practice is driven by a deep belief in the social, political and communal role of art and performance and in engaging with sites and histories where queer culture, composting and ecological crisis occur.
Josten Myburgh is a musician based on Whadjuk Noongar boodja country who plays with techniques from the worlds of electro-acoustic music, radio art, free improvisation, field recording and experimental composition. He co-directs exploratory music label Tone List and the Audible Edge festival. He has performed in South Africa, the United States, and throughout South East Asia, Europe and Australia. He is a Schenberg Fellow and a student of Antoine Beuger and Michael Pisaro.
Aisyah Aaqil Sumito is an artist and writer living near Derbarl Yerrigan on Whadjuk Noongar Bibbulmun lands. Their work reflects mostly on personal intersections of disability, queerness and diasporic ancestry in so-called 'australia'. They have recently made text-based contributions to Runway Journal and HERE&NOW20: Perfectly Queer, Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery.
Michael Terren is a musician and educator from Boorloo/Perth. Grounded in experimental studio-based practice, his work explores the social construction of the technologies of music’s creation and distribution. He is a sessional academic teaching music at two Boorloo universities, and in 2019 finished a PhD thesis entitled 'The grain of the digital audio workstation'.
Joee Mejias is a musician and video artist from Manila. She is co-producer of WSK, the first and only international festival of digital arts and new media in the Philippines and co-founder of HERESY, a new platform for women in sound and multimedia. She performs as Joee & I: her avant-pop electronica solo project.
Myriad Sun are an experimental audio/visual/rap trio from Walyalup (Fremantle), Australia, composed of electronic producer Ben Aguero, Mc POW! Negro, and Limit Bashr. Additional performers: Mali Jose, Billy Jack Narkle and Polly-Pearl Greenhalgh.
Jasmine Guffond is an artist and composer working at the interface of social, political, and technical infrastructures. Focused on electronic composition across music and art contexts her practice spans live performance, recording, installation and custom made browser add-ons. Through the sonification of data she addresses the potential of sound to engage with contemporary political questions and engages listening as a situated-knowledge practice.
Sounding Together comprise of the following performers: Rhys Butler (alto saxophone); Simon Charles (soprano saxophone, shakuhachi); Eduardo Cossio (electronics, writing); Luke Cuerel (alto saxophone); Jim Denley (flute, writing); Julia Drouhin (voice, electronics, objects, images); Jameson Feakes (mandolin); Be Gosper (voice, objects); Noemie Huttner-Koros (voice, writing); Lenny Jacobs (percussion); Annette Krebs (amplified string instrument); Annika Moses (voice, images); Josten Myburgh (clarinet, alto saxophone, editing); Dan O’Connor (mastering); Stuart Orchard (guitar, objects, editing); Daisy Sanders (voice, movement).
Yan Jun, a musician based in Beijing uses a wide range of materials such as field recording, body, noise and concept. Yan Jun: “I wish I was a piece of field recording.”
Katie West is a multi-disciplinary artist who lives on Noongar Ballardong boodja and belongs to the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara tablelands in Western Australia. The process and notion of naturally dyeing fabric underpin her practice – the rhythm of walking, gathering, bundling, boiling up water and infusing materials with plant matter. The objects, installations and happenings that Katie creates invite attention to the ways we weave our stories, places, histories, and futures.
Simon Charles is a composer and performer based in Noongar Ballardong Country (Western Australia). His practice reflects an interest in the instability of compositional structures; as friction between musical notation and perception and interactions with place. He has performed at Serralvés Festival (Porto), The Wulf (Los Angeles) Studio Rotor (Berlin), Vigeland Mausoleum (Oslo), Avantwhatever Festival (Melbourne), DATA (Marseille), ANAM Quarttethaus and the Melbourne Recital Centre.
Tiarney Miekus is a writer, editor and musician based in Naarm/Melbourne. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin, The Lifted Brow (Online), Overland, Memo Review, un Magazine, Art Guide Australia, Swampland and RealTime. She is currently editor and podcast producer at Art Guide Australia.
Liang Luscombe is a Naarm/Melbourne-based visual artist whose practice encompasses painting, sculpture and moving image that engage in a process of generative questioning of how media and film affect audiences.
Thembi Soddell is a sound artist best known for their powerful acousmatic performances and installations in darkness. In 2019 they were awarded a PhD from RMIT University for their practice-based research titled, A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound. This research developed a novel approach to understanding lived experiences of anxiety, depression and trauma using a medium (abstract sound) with the unique ability to reflect the intangible nature of the inner world.
James Parker is an academic at Melbourne Law School and long-time associate curator with Liquid Architecture. His work explores the many relations between law, sound and listening. He is currently working on machine listening with Joel Stern and Sean Dockray.
Eloise Sweetman loves art, misses her home in Western Australia, all the time loving Rotterdam where she became friends with Pris Roos whose artwork Sweetman speaks of. Sweetman is a curator, artist, writer and teacher working in intimacy, not knowing and material relation. She started Shimmer with Dutch-Australian artist Jason Hendrik Hansma in 2017.
Cecilia Vicuña's work dwells in the not yet, the future potential of the unformed, where sound, weaving, and language interact to create new meanings.
'In January 1966, I began creating precarios (precarious) installations and basuritas, objects composed of debris, structures that disappear, along with quipus and other weaving metaphors. I called these works 'Arte Precario', creating a new independent category, a non-colonized name for them. The precarios soon evolved into collective rituals and oral performances based on dissonant sound and the shamanic voice. The fluid, multi-dimensional quality of these works allowed them to exist in many media and languages at once. Created in and for the moment, they reflect ancient spiritual technologies—a knowledge of the power of individual and communal intention to heal us and the earth.'
Camila Marambio is a private investigator, amateur dancer, permaculture enthusiast, and sporadic writer, but first and foremost, she is a curator and the founder/director of Ensayos, a nomadic interdisciplinary research program in Tierra del Fuego.
Las Chinas is the cosmic coincidences led to the meeting of Chileans Sarita Gálvez and Camila Marambio in Melbourne. Their shared reverence for the ancestral flautón chino from the Andes Mountains lead to playful explorations of its unique dissonant sounds and thereafter to experimenting with atonal signing and other technologies of the spirit.
Influenced by Chilean feminist poet Cecilia Vicuña, the now deceased poet Fidel Sepúlveda, the musical ensemble La Chimuchina and the chino bands from the townships of La Canela and Andacollo, Las Chinas honours the ancestral tradition by enacting the principle of tearing each other apart.
Bryan Phillips A.K.A. Galambo is a Chilean/Australian artist working in community arts, music and performance, using sound as a means to facilitate engagement with others. His practice has mainly been developed in Chile, but after completing his Masters in Community Cultural Development (VCA-2013) he has become involved in projects with artists from Timor-Leste, Indonesia and Australia.
Douglas Kahn is an historian and theorist of energies in the arts, sound in the arts and sound studies, and media arts, from the late-nineteenth century to the present. His books include Energies in the Arts (MIT Press, 2019); Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts (University of California Press, 2013); Noise Water Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999); Mainframe Experimentalism: Early Computing and the Foundations of Digital Arts, edited with Hannah Higgins (University of California Press, 2012); and Source: Music of the Avant-garde, edited with Larry Austin (University of California Press, 2011).
André Dao is a writer, editor, researcher, and artist. His debut novel, Anam, won the 2021 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. He is also the co-founder of Behind the Wire, an oral history project documenting people’s experience of immigration detention and a producer of the Walkley-award winning podcast, The Messenger. He is a member of the Manus Recording Project Collective.
Poppy de Souza is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based researcher affiliated with Griffith University and UNSW. Her work focuses on the politics of voice and listening—broadly defined—in conditions of inequality and injustice, including the relationship between sound, race, and conditions of (not) being heard. Poppy has previously worked in community arts and cultural development (CACD), and with the national Film and Sound Archive as a curator on australianscreen.
Andrew Brooks is an artist, writer, and teacher who lives on unceded Wangal land. He is a lecturer in media cultures at UNSW, one half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate, and a member of the Rosa Press Collective. Homework, a book of essays co-written with Astrid Lorange, was recently published by Discipline.
Behrouz Boochani is a Kurdish-Iranian writer, journalist, scholar, cultural advocate and filmmaker. He was writer for the Kurdish language magazine Werya. He writes regularly for The Guardian and several other publications. Boochani is also co-director (with Arash Kamali Sarvestani) of the 2017 feature-length film Chauka, Please Tell Us the Time, and author of No Friend but the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison. He was held on Manus Island from 2013 until 2019.
Emma Russell is a critical carceral studies scholar and senior lecturer in crime, justice and legal studies at La Trobe University, Australia. She researches and writes on policing and criminalisation, prisons, detention, and activism. Emma is the author of Queer Histories and the Politics of Policing (2020) and co-author of Resisting Carceral Violence: Women’s Imprisonment and the Politics of Abolition (2018).
Dylan Martorell is an artist and musician based in Narrm/Melbourne Victoria. He is a founding member of Slow Art Collective, Snawklor, Hi God People, and Forum of Sensory Motion. He has performed and exhibited internationally, including projects with; Art Dubai, Asian Art Biennale, Tarrawarra Biennale, Jakarta Biennale and Kochi Muzirus Biennale. His work often combines site-specific materiality and music to create temporary sites for improvised community engagement.
Jim Denley is one of Australia's foremost improvisers. Over a career spanning four decades his work has emphasised the use of recording technologies, collaboration, and a concern with site-specificity.
Noah Simblist works as a curator, writer, and artist with a focus on art and politics, specifically the ways in which contemporary artists address history. He has contributed to Art in America, Terremoto, Art Journal and other publications.
He is also an Associate Professor of Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.
Jacqui Shelton is an artist and writer born on Barada Barna land, central QLD, and based in Narrm, Melbourne. Her work uses text, performance, film-making and photography to explore the complications of performance and presence, and how voice, language, and image can collaborate or undermine one another. She is especially interested in how emotion and embodied experience can be made public and activated to reveal a complex politics of living-together, and the tensions this makes visible. She has produced exhibitions and performance works in association with institutions including Gertrude Contemporary, the Institute of Modern Art, West Space, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Tarrawarra Museum, and with Channels Festival and Liquid Architecture. Shelton has shown work internationally in Milan at Care-Of, and at NARS Inc in New York City. She teaches photography at Monash University and in the Masters of Media program at RMIT, and holds a PhD from Monash University.
A Hanley is an artist currently living on Wurundjeri Country in Melbourne, Australia. Their practice uses sound and media to explore relations among queer ecologies, attunement, situatedness, and speculative practices. Engaging forms of performance, installation, and collaboration, Hanley's work is interested in audition as an affective practice and the possibilities of sound and technology to support and alter the sonic expressions of humans and non-humans.
Patrick Hase is a digital media artist and researcher, focusing on work that often involves digital interfaces, experimental web design, and collaborative a/v. The entwined practical and theoretical aspects of his work are interested in exploring the embedded cultural and emotional impacts of how people are extended into the virtual via digital processes and designs.
Xen Nhà is a documentary maker and artist with a background in creating intimate dialogues and storytelling across sound, film, and texts. Their work explores the confluence between personal and collective narratives and the cultural politics and responsibility of listening. They are currently living in Melbourne on unceded Wurundjeri Country.
Philip Brophy writes on music, among other things.
Jason De Santolo (Garrwa and Barunggam) is a researcher & creative producer based in the School of Design, University of Technology Sydney, Australia. He has worked with his own communities as an activist and advocate using film and performance, protest and education to bring attention to injustices and design solutions using Indigenous knowledge.
Kynan Tan is an artist interested in the relations and conditions of computational systems, with a focus on data, algorithm, networks, materiality, control, and affect. These areas are explored using computer-generated artworks that take the form of simulations, video, sound, 3d prints, text, code, and generative algorithms.
Snack Syndicate, two rats (Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange) living on unceded Wangal land; texts, objects, events, meals, and publics.
Spence Messih is an artist living and working on Gadigal land. Their practice speaks broadly to sites of pressure, power structures, materiality, and language, and more specifically about these things in relation to their own trans experience.
Tina Stefanou born of Sophia and Yorgios Stefanou is a first/second generation Greek-Australian. Emerging from an East Melbourne hospital on 21 November 1986. She is thirty-four years old. Now based on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri people in Wattle Glen, Victoria. With a background as a vocalist, she works undisciplined, with and across a diverse range of mediums, practices, approaches, and labours: an embodied practice that she calls, 'voice in the expanded field'.
Tom Melick is the co-editor of Slug and part of the Rosa Press Collective and Stolon Press.
Trisha Low is a writer living in the East Bay. She is the author of The Compleat Purge (Kenning Editions, 2013) and Socialist Realism (Emily Books/Coffee House Press, 2019).
The clip begins with the slow, repeating sound of a frog chirruping. My ear is drawn closer. The atmosphere is calm, but not empty. There is a ‘liveness’ to it; a background hum. The sounds of the jungle at night; of ‘nature’, the forest. The chirrup continues. Soon, human voices puncture the soundscape, men speak briefly to each other as they pass. Later, the sound of a vehicle enters the frame. It comes closer. I hear the ‘beep beep’ of a car horn, the rolling of tyres as they pass over rough gravel, then through what sounds like water or wet ground. Then the car — like the men’s voices before it — fades away into the distance. The sounds of the jungle come back into focus. The chirrups continue, insects join the chorus too. A dog barks in the distance. An unidentified source of water sloshes and subsides. Again, men’s voices interrupt the rhythm of the jungle, close enough to hear, but far enough for them to remain unintelligible. Later, footsteps grow louder and men acknowledge one another in passing — ‘hello’, ‘goodnight’, ‘hello’, ‘goodnight’ they say. The footsteps fade away. Another vehicle passes by in the distance; the dog’s bark continues; the sharp staccato of a cicak’s click click click click; another car; more sounds of the jungle. And then, after ten minutes, the clip ends.
The night before last, sitting by the fence near the jungle is a ten-minute sound recording made by author and journalist Behrouz Boochani while forcibly detained on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea as part of the brutal regime of racialised border control that is Australia’s immigration and offshore detention policy. The clip is one of eighty-four, ten-minute audio recordings that make up the collaborative artwork how are you today (2018). The work was forged through intimate and sustained relations between and across Australia and its former colonial territories, and through trans-border solidarities and creative relationships between six men then held on Manus Island — Abdul Aziz Muhamat, Farhad Bandesh, Behrouz Boochani, Samad Abdul, Shamindan Kanapathi and Kazem Kazemi — and Jon Tjhia, André Dao and Michael Green in Melbourne (Narrm). Collectively, the Manus Recording Project Collective. Each day for the duration of the exhibition (between July and October 2018), one ten-minute sound recording was uploaded from one of the men on Manus and sent ‘onshore’ to be played back in the Ian Potter Museum of Art, on unceded Wurundjeri lands.
how are you today has since been exhibited in various forms, within and beyond the gallery space,1 and now exists as a fourteen-hour sound archive. As an archive, it testifies to the carceral conditions of duress and unfreedom of six men forcibly detained offshore at a specific moment in history. More broadly, it indexes Australia’s increasingly amorphous and diffuse system of punitive policies and migration laws. It does both these things in ways that confound expectations of what life in an offshore ‘black site’ might sound like.2 For the most part, it does not conform to a recognisable genre of either refugee testimony or legal narration; nor does it ‘narrate’ the injustice it catalogues so much as sound out its conditions. In other words, I suggest the work is listening-oriented rather than organised around voice or speech, even though voice and speech are present. It takes a form that elides/eludes narrative, exposing the very limits of what settler-colonial carceral logic and law can hear; or rather, sounds out what it is structured not to hear.3
Questions of justice are intimately connected to conditions of listening, hearing, and attention, within and beyond settler law, and in everyday life.4 But when the logic of ‘crisis’ dominates socio-legal, political, and media frames of asylum seekers and refugees in Australia and beyond, what failures of hearing are naturalised? Responding to this dossier’s call to consider the acoustics of justice, this essay is an attempt to develop more just hearings that register the ‘long emergencies of slow violence’5 that how are you today both catalogues and resists. What does it mean to attend to these ‘site-specific acts of listening’?6 How does the work prompt and challenge its audience to centre those at once living outside of the shelter of the Australian state, yet subject to its brutal regime of racialised border control? How might it suggest more ethical modes of responsiveness that listen differently, or otherwise? Modes that de-centre the state to listen in solidarity with those who live beyond its shelter or under its duress or,7 to follow Andrew Brooks’ provocation, how might we ‘listen against the state’ itself?8 Rather than making a central ‘claim’ or ‘argument’ in order to answer these questions, the form of this essay takes its lead from attuning and responding to the work itself. It is a work that invites us to sit with, turn over, work through tensions and complexities — to think about practices and unfoldings, rather than offer answers or definitive ends. It demands slow and attentive listening.
The clip described at the beginning of this essay, the fence near the jungle, indexes the compound fence marking the border of the East Lorengau Refugee Transit Centre (RTC) where Boochani and hundreds of other men were held at the time. The RTC in East Lorengau was one of three locations where men were transferred after the October 2017 ‘closure’ of the Manus Regional Processing Centre (MRPC), a repurposed Royal Australian Navy base. The fence was a physical, yet porous boundary through which movement and freedom were severely constrained. The men were ‘free’ to move around Manus Island during the day, but movement was restricted at night. Boochani records the sounds of the night jungle to call attention to the way in which the sounds of Manus Prison are naturalised; what might be heard as a ‘natural’ or ‘peaceful’9 island environment is in fact one that has been deliberately mobilised by the Australian state as a place of punishment (see also, for example, Kazem, yesterday, watching videos from the day’s swimming with friends or Farhad, on Thursday, walking along the beach and into the forest for the way in which sounds of the beach/ocean call up a similar tension). What we hear is in fact a ‘carceral atmosphere’.10 This connects to a longer history in which jungles, deserts, and oceans have been mobilised within punitive regimes, or as necropolitical borderscapes in Oceania and elsewhere.11 While the sound of the fence is noticeably absent (the fence cannot be ‘heard’ per se), Boochani captures its violent presence by locating a plurality of listening public(s) in proximity to it. Boochani makes audible the suffocating ‘settler atmosphere’12 in which he has been confined, where the conditions of breath and breathing ‘are collective and unequally distributed, with particular qualities and intensities that are felt differently through and across time’. The clip prompts consideration of our/their relations to a continued history of extractive and neo-colonial relations between the Australian state (founded on First Nations’ dispossession and incarceration) and an archipelago of prison islands on its former colonial territories (Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Christmas Island). The sounds that ‘leak’ across and through the fence are also a reminder of the simultaneous fixity and permeability of the border, of the ‘reiterative pattern of openings and closures which mark the persistence, and indeed expansion, of confinement and punishment, rather than its ‘end.’13
James E K Parker and Joel Stern, ‘how are you today by the Manus Recording Project Collective,’ Law Text Culture 24, (2020). ↩
Joseph Pugliese, State Violence and the Execution of Law: Biopolitcal caesurae of torture, black sites, drones (London: Routledge, 2013). ↩
Jill Stauffer, Listening to the Archive. Failing to Hear. In Law, Memory, Violence: Uncovering the Counter-Archive S Motha and H van Rijswijk eds., (London: Routledge, 2016), 34-49. ↩
Jill Stauffer, Ethical Loneliness: the injustice of not being heard (New York:Columbia University Press, 2015); Poppy de Souza and Tanja Dreher (forthcoming), ‘Dwelling in Discomfort: on the conditions of listening in settler colonial Australia,’ Borderlands: Culture, Politics, Law and Earth. ↩
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge:Harvard University Press, 2011), MA. ↩
Phillip Brophy, ‘Eavesdropping,’ The Wire 419, January. ↩
Leah Bassel, The Politics of Listening: possibilities and challenges for democratic life (London: Palgrave, 2007) 71-87. ↩
Andrew Brooks, ‘Listening to the indefinite,’ Runway 39, (2019). ↩
While beyond the scope of this paper to fully unpack the racial dimensions of ‘nature’, it is worth noting the ways in which so-called ‘natural’ environments are entangled with historical and ongoing colonial projects, including the dispossession of Indigenous peoples, and neo-colonial resource extraction. ↩
Emma K Russell, ‘Carceral atmospheres on Manus Island: Listening to how are you today,’ Law Text Culture 24, (2020). ↩
Renisa Mawani, Across Oceans of Law: The Komagata Maru and jurisdiction in the time of empire (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018); Suvendrini Perera, A Pacific zone?(In) security, sovereignty, and stories of the Pacific borderscape,’ In Borderscapes: Hidden geographies and politics and territory’s (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007), 201-227. ↩
Kristen Simmons, ‘Settler Atmospherics,’ Cultural Anthropology 32, (4), https:// culanth.org/fieldsights/settler-atmospherics. ↩
Across the archive, the men record themselves sharing time together; passing time in isolation; caught in ‘indefinite stuckness’;1 enduring the long, slowing ‘sticky time’ of waiting.2 Just as the description, the fence locates listeners spatially in relation to Lorengau camp, listeners are temporally located in relation to when Boochani made the recording (the night before last)—at that time, more than five years into his imprisonment on Manus. The soundings of frogs, cicadas, and cicaks become sonic markers that index the slow, sustained violence of the settler colonial Australian state, the temporal torture of time. In conversation with André Dao, a collaborator on the work, Boochani reflected:
… that’s why I recorded the voice of [the] jungle… we were in that place every day and every moment, and every moment we’re struggling with that systematic torture, and that’s why I think time is very important. I wanted to show time, and silence. And help people to imagine that how hard it is that for years, and years, and years, you just listen to the jungle; you listen to the animals; you look at the world, you know. People just think that every day from morning until night, that we have physical violence and the guards attack us. No, it’s not like this, you know. Most of the lives in that place is that these people are […] under torture by time.3
For Boochani, a central motivator for creating the work was to ‘help people to feel the men in Manus Island and take them into the camp to live with us’4 (emphasis mine). To me, this suggests a move beyond empathy. To be brought into the camp — mapped across various physical locations in Manus Island and Port Moresby in the archive of recordings — is to be brought into relations with these men, so that the torture of time (and of place) is made audible. The sonic intimacy of the clip the night before last, sitting by the fence near the jungle insists on a situated listening, one which extends the horizon of attention beyond the frame of the state in order to hear the men on their own terms. As Dreher and de Souza have argued,5 it is vital to locate listening ‘within embodied relationships, colonial histories, and networks of privilege and power’. Drawing on the work of Iris Marion Young, Emily Beausoleil construes responsibility as a responsiveness6 — a responsiveness that is not oriented towards empathy, compassion or even understanding, but rather a situated ethics of listening grounded in relational responsibility; what she terms a ‘dispositional ethics of encounter’.
The ethical imperative of inviting us in suggests a response that might prompt listeners to reflect on the ways in which they/we are entangled and complicit with the state’s logic. Many of the recordings in how are you today expose the way offshore detention on Manus is constitutive of, not separate to, Australia’s settler colonial border regime and the shifting geographies of violence and displacement central to its re-inscription. how are you today is a prompt and provocation to develop a dispositional ethics grounded in the situated positionalities of listeners. The work makes an ethical claim on those who listen in. It insists on a mode of political listening which accounts for the multiple ways we are positioned in and by structures of power.7 For example, the labour and experience of listening to the work is differently modulated for listeners who live within the state’s borders but under the duress; for First Nations listeners whose ontological sovereignty exceeds that of the settler colonial state; or for those who refuse — or are refused — the state’s conditional epistemological (and legal) frames. For listeners who live under the ‘shelter’ of the state — even those who may listen, and live, against it — the work insists on staying with the discomfort and tension this listening position invokes.
Discourses and narratives of ‘crisis’ have underpinned refugee and asylum seeker policy on both sides of politics in Australia for decades. From the ‘stop the boats’ rhetoric of Operation Sovereign Borders to #KidsoffNauru and #BringThemHere to the Medevac Bill and its ultimate repeal, the logic of crisis is used to both defend Australia’s border regime in the name of state securitisation, and appeal to humanitarian calls for empathy and compassion. Urgency and emergency construct some refugees/asylum seekers as objects of care and sympathy, while others endure in a state of unending suspension — reminders and remainders of an always-potential ‘threat’ to state borders. Framing refugees and asylum seekers in terms of crisis maintains specific ideas about ‘about what is politically possible, what is irrelevant, and what we have to fear.’8 Yet empathy evoked in refugee-themed narratives ‘is often accompanied by a depoliticization of systemic issues’ and is also problematic.9 Whether deployed in appeals for empathy and compassion on the one hand, or fear and anxiety on the other, the category of ‘crisis’ can reinforce the racialised logic that shapes the laws and policies through which movement, migration, ‘settlement’ and citizenship are secured.
In December 2018, former Federal Member for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps, introduced into parliament the Migration Amendment (Urgent Medical Treatment) Bill 201810— known as the Medevac Bill. Before its eventual repeal twelve months later, the amendment permitted the ‘temporary transfer to Australia of transitory persons on Manus Island or Nauru, and their families, if they are assessed by two or more treating doctors as requiring medical treatment’ (Migration Act 1958). In her address to the chamber, Phelps emphasised the ‘shocking’, ‘urgent’, ‘life-threatening’ and ‘escalating’ nature of the medical crisis unfolding on Nauru and Manus Island, and called for the immediate transfer of all refugee and asylum seeker children to Australia for medical treatment.11 Yet by focusing on figures of vulnerability — sick refugee children, pregnant women, unaccompanied minors and struggling families — Phelps set up a specific kind of rescue politics; implicit within her ‘legal and moral responsibility to act’ was a distinction between ‘guilt’ and ‘innocence’.
Phelps went to great lengths to assure the parliament — and the public — that the bill would not compel the permanent resettlement of refugees, or even their permanent transfer to Australia. Nor, she stressed, did it seek to ‘end offshore detention or contradict either of the major parties’ stated policies on offshore detention’. Any amended legislation, she insisted, would not let the ‘people smugglers win’ or invite ‘a flood of boats’.12 Mariam Ticktin has argued that ‘while humanitarianism is often understood as driven by emotions — compassion, empathy, benevolence, pity — in fact, it relies on a narrow emotional constellation’13 that necessarily constrains our responses. In the case of the Medevac Bill, those deemed most ‘deserving’ of humanitarian care were those deemed most worthy of attention. So, while Phelps appealed to humanitarian notions of care and compassion for the ‘innocent’ and ‘vulnerable’ (in other words, those deemed not a threat to the state), this framing continued, rather than dissolved, the crisis-security nexus and broader conditions and politics that maintain a bipartisan position of incarcerating asylum seekers offshore.
Jackie Wang, in her critique of racialised carceral-capitalism in the United States, has argued that strategies that appeal to innocence become problematic ‘when they reinforce a framework that renders revolutionary and insurgent politics unimaginable’. Such appeals, she suggests, ‘foreclose a form of resistance that is outside the limits of the law and instead ally ourselves with the state.’14 As Jordana Silverstein has observed in her work on the discursive framing of refugee children in Australian policy and political debates,15 compassion and generosity in response to crisis ‘relies on the pre-eminence of white feeling, white attachment and white knowledge’. Often those responses can be, and are, used to further enact measures aimed at racist and racialised forms of border and population control.16 If the foundation of the Australian state is ‘patriarchal white sovereignty,’17 then an investment in whiteness is structured into whose claims to justice can be heard, and on what terms. Tinkering around the edges of the Migration Act to make it ‘more humane’ obscures, rather than exposes, this foundational violence and racial logic.
As a counterpoint, and counter-archive, how are you today shifts attention beyond the immediate temporality of crisis, even though as an artwork it was conceived, in part, as an urgent intervention into an intractable and ‘wicked’ problem; and even as its form as an archive indexes other modes of intervention and critique.
The durational nature of the work — its initial creation over three months, as well as its form as a fourteen-hour sound archive — invites us to think about what it takes to develop alternative political and social arrangements that might hold and sustain us in relation to others. The labour of listening to the how are you today archive — the enforced slowness of it — has a cumulative effect, reflecting the duration and endurance that are features of indefinite detention. On the one hand, many of the clips are pleasing to the ear — at times soothing in their rhythm and repetition, tender in the community and care they reveal. At the same time many of the clips reflect, and reflect on, the brutal conditions under which they are made (for example Shamindan, yesterday, discussing recent suicide attempts in the camp or Kazem, yesterday, talking to Farhad about his health issues at the medical unit.) In this regard it is an unsettling work for the way it orients, holds and sustains the listener’s attention. André Dao writes ‘the recordings often require a particularly attentive form of listening, lest we forget what it is we are listening to’.18
Melanie Griffiths, ‘Out of time: The temporal uncertainties of refused asylum seekers and immigration detainees,’ Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 40/12, (2014) : 1991-2009. ↩
André Dao and Behrouz Boochani, ‘Interview: André Dao and Behrouz Boochani’ in Disclaimer, 2021. https://disclaimer.org.au/contents/manus-recording-project-collective/interview-andre-dao-and-behrouz-boochani ↩
Behrouz Boochani, Plenary conversation with André Dao. Law Literature and Humanities Association of Australia conference, Law In End Times. Gold Coast, 2-5 December, 2019. ↩
Tanya Dreher and Poppy de Souza, ‘Locating Listening’ in Tanya Dreher and Anshuman Mondal, eds., Ethical Responsiveness and the Politics of Difference (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), 21-39. ↩
Emily Beausoleil, ‘Responsibility as Responsiveness: Enacting a dispositional ethics of encounter,’ Political Theory 45/3, (2017): 291-318. ↩
Susan Bickford, The Dissonance of Democracy: Listening, conflict and citizenship (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996). ↩
Prem Kumar Rajaram, ‘Beyond Crisis: Rethinking the population movements at Europe’s border,’ FocaalBlog (blog), 19 October, 2015, www.focaalblog.com/2015/10/19/ prem-kumar-rajaram-beyond-crisis. ↩
Sukhmani Khorana, ‘Watching to Witness: Responses Beyond Empathy to Refugee Documentaries’ in Dreher and Mondal (2018), 136. ↩
Migration Amendment (Urgent Medical Treatment) Bill 2018 (Cth). ↩
Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates 2018 House of Representatives, 3 December, 12170 (Kerryn Phelps, Member for Wentworth). ↩
Commonwealth Parliamentary Debates 2018 House of Representatives, 3 December. ↩
Miriam Ticktin, ‘Thinking beyond humanitarian borders,’ Social Research: An International Quarterly 83/2, (2016): 256. ↩
Jackie Wang, Carceral Capitalism (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2018), 29, MA. ↩
Jordana Silverstein, ‘A shock through the system: Histories of crisis in Australian child refugee policy,’ Unpublished seminar paper delivered at Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, May 14, 2019b, 7. ↩
Silverstein, ‘A shock through the system’. ↩
Aileen Moreton-Robinson, The White Possessive: Property, power, and Indigenous sovereignty (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2015). ↩
Andre Dao 2018 ‘‘How are you today’ at the Ian Potter Museum of Art,’ The Monthly, 9 October; Poppy de Souza and Tanja Dreher (forthcoming) ‘Dwelling in Discomfort: on the conditions of listening in settler colonial Australia,’ Borderlands: Culture, Politics, Law and Earth. ↩
The clip begins with the sound of a man clearing his throat. The audio recorder picks up a low, whirring hum—a generator-like sound, or an air-conditioner perhaps. A man sighs. A door closes (or opens) in the background. The man changes position, though it is difficult to identify where and how he is moving. He clears his throat again. Do I hear tiredness in his utterance? Exhaustion? Discomfort? The hum continues — louder now — a maddening presence in the soundscape. A rustling sound of movement again. Another exhale of breath. I hear discomfort, something about the tentative outbreath of air. Then, breathing in. Small sounds of movement. The whirring sound gets louder, more furious, though I still can’t place what it is. Two more sharp intakes of breath. A sneeze, two grunts. The discomfort unmistakable now; the strain familiar. Another shift in position. Another clearing of the throat. The rustling of an unidentified object. A sniff, then an outbreath. Two sneezes in quick succession. A big sneeze. Cough. Sniff. Grunt. More movement and rustling. Throat clearing and a pained outbreath. Then inhalation. The ‘whir’ sound gains speed. Another sigh, this one deeper. Exhale. Cough. Changing position. Sniffling. Throat clearing. The whirr continues. Then, after ten minutes, the clip ends.
‘Slow violence,’1 ‘slow death,’2 and ‘slow life’3 each develop critical temporalities of slowness to attend to the rhythms, pace, and duration of unevenly distributed structural violence and colonial-capitalist harm, and the uneventful, mundane and everyday acts of endurance that living under these conditions demands. For Rob Nixon,4 slow violence is ‘neither spectacular nor instantaneous, but rather incremental and accretive, its calamitous repercussions playing out across a range of temporal scales’. For Lauren Berlant,5 slow death seeks to make visible phenomena ‘not prone to capture by consciousness organized by archives of memorable impact’, gesturing instead towards temporalities of the endemic, of ‘ongoingness,’ of ‘getting by’ and ‘living on’. For Jasbir Puar, in her examination of the protracted pace of Palestinian life under Israeli occupation, ‘slow death can entail a really slow life too’.6 Slowness for these scholars becomes a way of engaging with the less direct, less visible (or audible), and less immediately recognisable forms of epistemic or structural harm. Slowness opens a temporal register more attuned to the uneven distribution of debilitation on non-white and poor populations living with the legacies of environmental racism, racial capitalism, and settler colonialism.
Following these scholars, the affordances of slowness as a modality of critique allow for both a slowing down (tempo) and stretching out (duration), extending the temporal horizon of attention beyond crisis and beyond the shelter of the state. First, listening to the ‘slowness’ of offshore detention both challenges and exposes state logics. The Australian state has successfully mobilised refugee suffering, limbo and waiting as a way of justifying offshore detention (vis-à-vis refugees ‘waiting’ in camps elsewhere). Slow listening is a modality of paying attention that takes seriously this monotony, repetition, and endurance that can be heard in the how are you today archive. Second, slow listening is also attentive to the art of making life in spaces of abandonment and disposability,7 where quiet forms of radical care and interdependence are heard and valued (for example in Aziz, the week before last, consoling his Somali friend with some Somali music or Shamindan, last week, speaking with Srirangan while he cooks fish curry) Parcelled out in ten-minute vignettes, the how are you today archive indexes only a tiny fraction of the time the men spent on Manus Island (and later, Port Moresby). Yet it is surprisingly difficult to listen to even a ten-minute sound clip, within or beyond the gallery space. When I presented an earlier version of this paper at a conference on law, literature and the humanities, an audience member responded to my call for slow listening with what seemed to me a mild impatience or agitation — he didn’t have fourteen hours. I am reminded of another intervention where dissonant temporal registers are brought into stark relief, prompting discomfort and unease. The 2016 Nauru Files Reading was a 10-hour durational performance and vigil that involved the reading of transcripts from a database of more than 2000 incident reports leaked from the detention centre on Nauru and published by The Guardian newspaper.8 The performance took place in front of Australia House in London — as a challenge to policies of the Australian state, and as an act of solidarity with those held incarcerated in offshore detention sites. The reading of the complete Nauru Files ‘produced a sound archive of … everyday life for refugees on Nauru.’9 The Nauru Files Reading was a political protest held in public space, deliberately calibrated to interrupt the ‘everyday’ urban soundscape in London. Nadine El-Enany and Sarah Keenan — two of the women involved in the action — noted that the ‘duration, monotony and repetition entailed in the reading of each file echoed the normalisation of the violence and tedium endured by refugees in indefinite detention.’10 Crucially, the sounds of bureaucratic border violence made audible through the performance could be heard by passers-by, some of whom were, potentially, a resistant listening audience. how are you today contrasts with this public hearing, but shares an intention to sound out the conditions of chronicity in a way that unsettles even willing listeners. Perhaps what provoked discomfort in my questioner at the conference was the labor of listening to offshore detention’s longue durée. Slow listening can be uncomfortable because it pays attention to this chronicity.
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), MA. ↩
Lauren Berlant, ‘Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency),’ Critical Inquiry 33/4, (2007): 754-780. ↩
Kathryn Medien, ‘Thinking Life, Death, and Solidarity through Colonized Palestine: an interview with Jasbir K. Puar’ Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies (2018) 14/1: 94-103. ↩
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 2. MA. ↩
Lauren Berlant, ‘Slow Death (Sovereignty, Obesity, Lateral Agency),’ Critical Inquiry 33/4, (2007): 759. ↩
Medien, ‘Thinking Life, Death, and Solidarity through Colonized Palestine,’ 99. ↩
Elizabeth Povinelli, Economies of Abandonment. Social belonging and endurance in late liberalism (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2011). ↩
Nick Evershed, Ri Liu, Paul Farrell & Helen Davidson, ‘The Nauru Files: The lives of asylum seekers in detention detailed in a unique database,’ The Guardian, 2015.
Nadine El-Enany and Sarah Keenan, ‘From Pacific to traffic islands: challenging Australia’s colonial use of the ocean through creative protest,’ Acta Academica 51/1, 2019: 48. ↩
Nadine El-Enany and Sarah Keenan, ‘From Pacific to traffic islands: challenging Australia’s colonial use of the ocean through creative protest,’ 48. ↩
While the Medevac Bill was a legislative intervention made on the legitimate basis of ‘urgent medical treatment’, it failed to respond to the enforced state of chronic debilitation that is offshore incarceration. The need for urgent medical treatment arises precisely through the debilitating conditions of state-sanctioned punitive expulsion and confinement. The clip described above, Shamindan, yesterday, in his room recovering from a migraine, is difficult to listen to. Yet his invitation to listen in, to ‘eavesdrop with permission,’1 is crucial here. Listening beyond crisis extends attention to economies of chronic ‘incapacitation and debilitation’2 to the slow and deliberate wearing down of bodies and lives. In contrast to the figure of the drowning or sick refugee child, or narratives of desperation and despair which capture public attention and sympathy, how are you today is an archive that testifies to what is not memorable; what is unremarkably common. In the clip recorded three weeks later, Shamindan, today, at the medical clinic checkpoint in East Lorengau Transit Centre, Kanapathi attends the medical clinic checkpoint in East Lorengau Transit Centre. Yet he is unable to see a clinician. The two recordings, listened to in relation, echo Jasbir Puar’s incisive critique that ‘chronic debilitation’ — like the checkpoint — can be a tactic of biopolitical control.3
Tanja Dreher, ‘Eavesdropping with permission: the politics of listening for safer speaking spaces,’ Borderlands E - Journal 8/1, 2009: 1-21. ↩
Gilbert Caluya, Gerard Goggin, Zsuzsanna Dominika Ihar, J Leff, et al. ‘The Right to Maim: Somatechnologies of Violence, Race, and Disability,’ Somatechnics 9/2-3, (2019): 376. ↩
Medien, ‘Thinking Life, Death, and Solidarity through Colonized Palestine,’100. ↩
The curator notes for how are you today suggest it ‘opens channels of communication when other forms of speech seem to have been exhausted’. A channel can refer to a communication channel or a sound channel, but a channel also describes a passage of water — and in this sense, the archive opens up a listening route across watery and porous boundaries that challenge border imperialism’s hard edges. Turning away from the ‘high-pitched drama’ of crisis, how are you today catalogues the sounds of life lived at the ‘lower frequencies’.1 It complicates and confounds the narrative that refugees and asylum seekers are so often scripted into — breaking the frame of easy containment through the ‘leaky’ medium of sound. By attending closely — listening slowly — to the sonic vignettes of daily life, alternative forms of political care and attention might be imagined.
The clip begins with the sound of a boat’s idling motor gently chugging; the squawk of birds somewhere above. Men are talking to each other in a tone that is friendly, generous. I hear the boat’s motor change pitch as it accelerates across the water, the sound of wind blustering the microphone. The men raise their voices over the sounds of movement and speed. They talk together, laugh, raise their voices over the wind; I recognise the joyful sounds of a wooooohoooo! I hear more laughter. The motor shifts back to an idle as the men’s chatter picks up, before the motor stops, and the men laugh. The sound of sloshing water; of feet jumping into the shallows. Before long, the motor accelerates again; the sound of the wind picks up. The sound of speed — of movement cutting through air. The clip settles into its own rhythm and pace as the boat carries the men across the water. Then, after ten minutes, the clip ends.
Ann Laura Stoler, Duress: Imperial durabilities in our times. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2016), 7. ↩
The devastating impact of Australia’s recent history of ‘letting die at sea’ and the ‘active efforts of governments to prevent their arrival on Australian shores’ amplify the perils of the ocean for those seeking asylum. This history of deliberate unsafe passage modulates what I hear when I listen to the laughter and lightness recorded in the clip Shamindan, yesterday, on a boat to Rara Island. But I am also reminded ‘refugee bodies, blocked, disallowed, and terminated, still produce new maps … marking the possibility of other spatial relations and new, as yet unrealized, geographies that confound the territorial trap’.1 how are you today was forged of, and might help forge, more just relations of attention that are oriented not towards empathy, compassion or even understanding, but gesture instead towards the more difficult, durational and justice-oriented listening needed to unsettle Australia’s settler colonial border regimes.2 Taken together, or heard collectively, the recordings that make up the how are you today archive tell us something about the conditions of living outside the shelter of the state; and of the very forms of everyday life that endure and resist. While Shamindan and hundreds of others remain in offshore (and onshore) detention,3 how are you today opens a listening route through which to hear what is refused, what remains, and what is still yet possible.
Suvendrini Perera, 2009 ‘Bodies, Boats, Borderscapes’ in Australia and the Insular Imagination* (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), 53-73. ↩
Cate Thill, 2018 ‘Listening with Recognition for Social Justice’ in Tanya Dreher and Anshuman Mondal, eds., Ethical Responsiveness and the Politics of Difference (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2018), 57-73. ↩
At the time of writing, Behrouz Boochani and Abdul Aziz Muhamat are living in New Zealand and Switzerland respectively. As with many of the other men moved off Manus Island in 2019, Shamindan Kanapathi and Samad Abdul were transferred to Port Moresby, where they remain. Fahrad Bandesh and Kazeem Kazemi were medically transferred ‘onshore’ and currently held in so-called Alternative Places of Detention (APODs) on the mainland, at the Mantra Hotel in Melbourne and Hotel Central in Kangaroo Point, Brisbane respectively. ↩
Poppy de Souza is a Meanjin (Brisbane) based researcher affiliated with Griffith University and UNSW. Her work focuses on the politics of voice and listening—broadly defined—in conditions of inequality and injustice, including the relationship between sound, race, and conditions of (not) being heard. Poppy has previously worked in community arts and cultural development (CACD), and with the national Film and Sound Archive as a curator on australianscreen.
Thanks to Emma Russell, James Parker, and André Dao for ideas sparked in that panel and beyond; and to the dossier’s editors and anonymous reviewers for generous feedback. I would also like to acknowledge the creative and intellectual labour of the Manus Recording Project Collective, and their networks of care and resistance this paper attempts to trace and listen in relation to.
The writings included in Sitting by the Fence near the Jungle: Reflections on the Manus Recording Project Collective were originally published in Law Text Culture, as part of a larger peer reviewed collection on the ‘Acoustics of Justice: Law, Listening, Sound’, edited by James Parker, Sara Ramshaw and Mehera San Roque. The collection is generously reproduced here under a Creative Commons licence (non-commercial) with the permission of the journal. The original PDFs can be downloaded here, along with fifteen other pieces (some of which are forthcoming in August 2021). We ask that you cite to the originals. But we hope this version of the dossier, which places the writing in direct conversation with the Manus Recording Project Collective’s original audio recordings, offers readers a different reading experience, as well as opening the work up to new audiences.
The editor would like to thank Joel Stern as co-curator of how are you today and where are you today, Liang Luscombe and Monet Jones for their amazing editorial support and Public Office for the beautiful design. The works discussed in this dossier were originally commissioned as part of the Eavesdropping exhibition, staged at The Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne in 2018 and City Gallery, Wellington in 2019. We thank these institutions for their support in the public stagings of the project. Most of all, sincere thanks to every member of the Manus Recording Project Collective — Abdul Aziz Muhamat, Farhad Bandesh, Behrouz Boochani, Kazem Kazemi, Shamindan Kanapathi, Samad Abdul, Farhad Rahmati, Thanush Selvraj, Yasin Abdallah, Michael Green, André Dao and Jon Tjhia. In solidarity for their ongoing struggles for freedom and justice.
This dossier was produced online, and across multiple unceded Indigenous Lands in so-called ‘Australia’ and Aetearoa, New Zealand. We acknowledge the people of the Kulin Nation as the custodians of the lands on which we work. We pay our respects to Indigenous Elders, past and present.