Sonic Acts unveils the 2024 biennial theme and dates
Returning for a celebratory 30th anniversary edition, Sonic Acts Biennial 2024 takes place from 2 February to 24 March, with an immersive and intensive ‘festival’ weekend running from 23 to 25 February 2024.
Unfolding across various temporal modalities and timescales – from month-long exhibitions to hour-long walks – the programme embraces a multiplicity of ways of sensing, engaging with the thresholds of the body and tuning into otherness.
Over two months, the Biennial takes shape as an exhibition, a multichannel sound programme, club nights, large theatrical productions, a symposium, film programmes, sound and video installations, sound and field walks, workshops and more.
The Spell of the Sensuous
The escalating climate emergency and the role and importance of art within this context has been an ongoing interest and concern for Sonic Acts over the past decade. Together we have asked how art can respond to, and intervene in, the artificially constructed divisions between nature and culture that have fuelled our extractive economies. Staying within this ecological framework and embracing the urgency of rethinking relations across species, Sonic Acts Biennial 2024: The Spell of the Sensuous turns for inspiration to, and takes its name from, David Abram’s eponymous book, published around the same time as Sonic Acts was founded. Under its spell, we will explore the web of relations – experienced and perceived through the ‘sensuous body’ – that evoke our rootedness in the larger ecology of earth beings.
Known today as the author of the ubiquitous term ‘more-than-human’, Abram was one of the first academic ecological thinkers to acknowledge animism as a worldview, drawing attention to cosmologies and traditions that always already regarded the natural world as imbued with consciousness. For Abram, animism is a form of ‘direct perceptual experience, not mediated by technologies’, that brings us in touch with the wider community of the more-than-human world. He contemplated ways of relating – rooted in various Indigenous practices and ancestral knowledge – that emphasised the entanglement of all things on the planet.
Yet how do we tune into that which we cannot grasp with language or vision, forms of cognition which are often positioned as the primary ways of knowing in our societies? Embracing the fluidity of the boundaries between human and more-than-human, the Biennial will expand beyond simply datafying the climate crisis and instead search for the vibrations, intimacies, resonances, and leakages emanating from our own bodies to the bodies of the Earth. In the process, it will not abandon solid ground but, following Abram, we will try to rethink ‘rationality’ and learn how to feel the world and open up the potentialities of senses that can help unlock the not easily accessible connections with our surroundings.
The visual identity that has been developed for The Spell of the Sensuous pays homage to Georgia O’Keeffe, an artist renowned for her mythic and uninhabited landscape masterpieces. Channelling her distinctive palette, the AI generated visuals employ earthly and lively hues hinting at images beyond human senses – a mystical entrancement in O’Keeffe’s landscapes or the liquid interconnectedness of (non)beings.
In her own words, remarking on the sensuously intimate and familial act of noticing nature, ‘in a way – nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small – we haven’t time – and to see takes time like to have a friend takes time.’