2020 has defied all expectations here at Liquid Architecture. In March, due to the pandemic, our public program was postponed, with immediate effect, and indefinitely. In April, our ongoing funding from Australia Council - the majority of our income and operational budget - was discontinued. A number of other organisations, including some of our closest peers and collaborators, find themselves in similar predicaments, without programs or financial security. Galleries and venues are empty for the foreseeable future, and as we wait for them to reopen, our resources deplete and our context is destabilised.
It feels vital, then, to think at the intersection of these two critical events: the pandemic and the unfunding. Various questions arise: What does it mean for the art economy to collapse in the midst of a global lockdown? What creative and critical possibilities arise in the apparent suspension of normality? What should be done with what remains of our resources, given the extraordinary circumstances? How might experimental practices be mobilised under such conditions? In formulating these questions, we want to frame the pandemic, and our defunding, not simply as events to which we respond, but rather as political lessons in and of themselves - forms of pedagogy. What we learn from them must help us confront the present, and plan a liveable future.
Liquid Architecture’s methodology and compass remains, as ever, our artistic program. What shape this program will take is uncertain, although we are beginning to formulate some possibilities, as you’ll read below. Whatever we do, however, will be grounded both in the urgencies of this moment, and, equally, in the auditory imaginaries of possible futures; what curator Sofia Lemos has called the “multidirectional form of social experience against the law-like authority of clock-time” offered by the sonic. We must listen together in and out of this time. Doing so will demand, paradigmatically, listening differently – listening openly, embracing complexity, and extending beyond conceptual comfort zones. Learning how to hold multiple truths at once, producing collaborative sound and listening, applying these to thinking about how to move forward, together.
Unearthing or -un-ear-thing- is a new initiative extending Liquid Architecture’s work with experimental education and pedagogy. Led by Debris Facility Pty Ltd, the program takes the metaphor of the ‘ear to the ground’ as a departure point for exploring how collaborative, experimental listening might excavate buried knowledge and help navigate the hazardous conceptual terrain of the present. In deploying the metaphor, we keep in mind that placing one ear to the ground means opening the other to the world above. Thus, -un-ear-thing-, for us, is about listening simultaneously above, below, and across thresholds, disciplines, temporalities. We know that the ear today is an often technologised organ. So, along with the ear to the ground, we hold in mind another image, that of the stethoscope pressed against the body; the human body, yes, and all its attendant biopolitics of listening, but also the corpus, or body of knowledge, with its social, political and artistic resonances.
Each -un-ear-thing- iteration will take the form of an education intensive, on-and/or-offline as conditions permit. Under lockdown, as we are currently, these programs will function as experiments in listening and speaking together while physically apart. We can announce that the first four -un-ear-thing-s will be facilitated by Snack Syndicate, Anja Kanngieser, Sean Dockray & James Parker, Ceri Hann & Roseanne Bartley, with more to follow.
We invited Snack Syndicate (Andrew Brooks and Astrid Lorange) to lead us into this series, as we could imagine no better comrades with whom to share our ears and bodies, and start to sound a collective future’s infrastructure. Details of their program, and its points of participation, here.