‘Queering the City: A Sono-Orientation’

As part of the exhibition: “TWELVE CAUTIONARY URBAN TALES” – An exhibition not about what the city is, but about what it can be, hosted at Matadero, Centro de Creaciòn Contemporane from 13 Feb 2020 – 31 January 2021.

Informations: mataderomadrid.org/en/mediateca/publications/twelve-cautionary-urban-tales
Read more: 12 urban fairy tales, 12 installations, 12 ways to imagine the city (at Matadero)” on Domus

Queering the City: A Sono-Orientation is an installation curated and designed by Katayoun Arian. It includes aural works by Angela Anderson, Irene Cassarini, Gayatri Kodikal and Karachi Beach Radio. The installation is part of the exhibition Twelve Cautionary Urban Tales, curated by Ethel Baraona Pohl.

Statement from the curator Katayoun Arian:
“‘Queering the City: A Sono-Orientation’ is an installation that I have developed and convened for this purpose from the standpoint that a non-differentiated binary logic that underlies the ‘urban’, i.e. the ‘rural’ (read: natural), insists on a separation in order to mystify the damage being done to peoples and ecosystems which are not part of the urban imaginary. It is a logic, an orientation, that rests on an idea of a permanent divide, an inside-and-outside-of-the city, which particularly in times of climate collapse, isn’t true to life. To queer this orientation is not an attempt to seek for particular outcomes or answers. Rather, it is a calling into question and a means of interrogating our-being-in-the world in relation to our lived environment, and systems and structures of meaning and power, as and where they exist. The installation provides a setting for different soundscapes and sonic eruptions, comprised of works by Angela Anderson, Irene Cassarini, Karachi Beach Radio, and Gayatri Kodikal. These works resonates the necessity for a collective attendance to a continuum of vibration that precedes and exceeds the human spectrum of audibility and perceptibility. They call for a surrendering of ourselves to become part of the multiplicity and the continuum of the vibrational forces of the Earth. The respective works by the participating artists, pay attention to the work that sound does, and the realities and meanings it creates.
Can an orientation to the world in which all sound is understood as queer, signal a planetary turn in a different direction? A flight into the world. An attending to the subtone of our planetary hum, holding open the very possibility of a (different) future as such: a sono-futurality.”

The commissioned sound work I composed for the installation Queering the City: A Sono-orientation is titled “Untraced/Untitled” (2020), presented as a sonic inquiry exploring the topics addressed in the exhibition.

On Untraced/Untitled, a statement from the artist:
Considering cities as entities where human and non-human cohabitation takes place, both physically and sonically, the work addresses the numerous challenges faced in future ecologies in which unsustainable models of hyper-technological skylines and digital mappings, are continuously fetishized. In this speculative future, the building of a capillary system of policing and surveillance meets queer beings through sounds, and those who provoke friction and dissent, by engaging in counter-hegemonic movement through noise. These qualities of the future city, are expressed through evolving layers of sounds, in which dissonant elements appear out of place, trying to blend in or resist.

Two soundscapes on headphones, auralize a fluid urban landscape in which levels of loudness that create a hierarchy of importance and mask the effects that cancel out weaker sonic elements, are negated by a complex ecosystem. Coexisting elements meet and collide, aggregate and disperse. A fluid city is a web of complex realities, and a sanctuary for deep diversity, where human entities are submerged in the aural realm. At the same time, a dystopian and cautionary hearing always remains present, as often non-normative communities remain unseen, untraced, untitled, and anonymous in a larger networks. Untraced/untitled is a sonic inquiry into speculative ideas of (im)possible futures of the city, a narration about in/exclusion of humans and non-humans within surveillance and regulated environments. Noise is considered as a queering element of sound: It is a disturbing agent that challenges the normative spectrum. It is unwanted sound symbolizing unwanted queer ecologies and futures.
The two sound pieces as part of the installation, explore the relationship between queering sound, cities, the ‘nature’ and ‘culture’ divide, and the concept of the sonic spaces as translated into a fluid landscape, where distances and proximities are created through timbre, volume, reverb and equalization.
Untraced/Untitled (2020) consists of two audio tracks:

Pt. I, 14’36, on headphones
Pt. II, 16’15, on headphones