Travelling Sounds: A Cultural Analysis of Sonic Artefacts in Postcolonial Europe

The project studies modes of listening – understood both as a sensory modalities and ways of sonic thinking – around artistic interventions and everyday sonic practices in the urban spaces of Copenhagen and London. Focusing on the performative spaces around public monumental sculptures, the project explores the sonic situations, sonic artefacts, and sonic encounters and how they shape and are shaped by the postcolonial condition of Europe. 

The project investigates modes of listening around three case studies: the public monumental sculpture I Am Queen Mary by artists LaVaughn Belle & Jeanette Ehlers and the temporary light sculpture Inuit Nutaat by artist collective SIIKU that was installed at the Greenlandic Monument in Copenhagen, and Karen Walker’s »Fons Americanus«, a monumental fountain for Turbine Hall of Tate Modern in London.

The study’s attention is on the decolonial potentials and tensions, the audible and inaudible sonic narratives, the intensities and materialities of sound, which reconfigure dominant narratives of colonialism and postcolonialism and challenge the regimes of looking and listening that tend to dominate modes of engagement and perception around public monuments.

The main objective of the project is to develop a practice-based methodology for the study of critical modes of listening around public monuments and in the urban space, which is accomplished by using auditory research methods such as field recordings and sound editing, the production and performance of audio walks, and the production of audio papers.

A comparative perspective is established through the case studies which allows an investigation of different listening positionalities, material-discursive entanglements, socio-spatial and institutional framings, and methodological questions. An important outcome and conclusion of the project is that a sonic and sensorial engagement with modes of listening around public sculptures may contribute to practices of decolonial sonic thinking that challenge the cultural politics of perception and unmarked white listening positionalities in postcolonial Europe.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 750199.