lumbung in the ‘air’ (a pun on the Bahasa Indonesia word for water) is a time-warp mix-tape of musical moments recorded during the opening days of documenta fifteen in Kassel Germany, 15 –20 June 2022.
Curated by the Jakarta-based collective ruangrupa, documenta fifteen is concerned with lumbung, the Indonesian word for a communal rice-barn where surplus rice is stored for the benefit of the community. Lumbung was adopted as a practice by the documenta organisers pursuing alternative economies of collectivity, shared resource building and equitable distribution. fugitive radio has become part of the lumbung ekosistem through the lumbung radio / station of commons platform.
Live broadcast personal consultations with Sumugan Sivanesan introducing the benefits of Karaoke Therapy. Register here to secure your slot in the KARA-O-KLINIK or just walk-in!
Duration of each session: 30min
Language: Consultations are in English, although you can karaoke in the language of your choice.
Location: HIAP Studios
Following the ‘silent disco’ season finale of fugitive radio’s online club, RUB, in April, I’ve been thinking about ‘awkward’ as an aesthetic category; a subclass of ‘zany’ that cultural theorist Sianne Ngai describes as: “evok[ing] the performance of affective labor—the production of affects and social relationships—as it comes to increasingly trouble the distinction between work and play.” (Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting, 2012, p.7)
Ngai notes that the zany mode is “lighthearted but strikingly vehement”, in which injury is always imminent. Literature and media scholar Pansy Duncan associates awkward with ungainly actions that impede progress combined with feelings of embarrassment. In her article on ‘cringe comedy’, “Joke work: comic labor and the aesthetics of the awkward” (2017) she traces the emergence of cringe comedy with the reorganisation of labour during late capitalism—from mechanical conditions to flexible, ‘creative’ and affective practices. Noting its arhythmic timing and the labour and endurance required of audiences, she emphasises awkward’s “negative phenomenological effects” (p.2).
Arguably play, sociability and managing relationships are simply how we work in ‘creative industries’. So what aesthetic and affective modes do we habitually use as we negotiate expectations to perform our ‘authentic selves’—indeed the best version of ourselves—in these sectors overly concerned with representation? When we sing and dance for our supper what do our voices and bodies betray? What tricks do we turn to when we feel we are failing?
KARA–O–KLINIK sets up a broadcast situation, combining endurance performance-research with reality ‘comedy vérité’. It will broadcast live from HIAP Open Studios, Friday 6 May, 16.00–20.00 and Saturday 7 May, 14.00–18.00.
A montage of field recordings, performances and other audio documents collected since August 2020, when fugitive radio began. Recordings include Vallilan vapputanssit Finnish Tango dance in the Vallila neighbourhood for the vappu May Day celebrations; Thomas Moose speaking at Pride Is A Protest in 2021; Pekka Pylkkänena from the musicians union interviewed in 2021; MC Ghepetto at Elements mini-Ball 2022 and Suva Das performing playground equipment at Pixelache Festival #BURN____2021.
I’ve been describing RUB8 ‘silent disco’ season finale as a happening. ‘It’s like a real dance party’ Aliisa Talja AKA DJ folk flore quipped during the night. Indeed, it was the people who made it ‘happen’, and upon reflection my role was to make the space and also make it worthwhile for people to ‘come to the party’ and to take up a kind of responsibility for it. This includes the time and effort taken to build trust — friendship. I doubt RUB8 would have been successful among strangers.
A headphone party seemed consistent with the idea of RUB, an online club with no physical room and that one could only enter via audio; a club I promoted as having a ‘no body policy’ because no bodies were in the room. A headphone party still meant participants would have to ‘bring the sound to their bodies’ and put it in them, but they would also have the experience of other bodies. Indeed it is curious that headphone parties have acquired a vernacular phrase,‘silent disco’, so it does not require much explanation. Although, I did expect it to be awkward, which might warrant further thought as an aesthetic category, such as those put forth by Sianne Ngai who wrote this about the ‘zany’ (2012, p.7):
the zany more specifically evokes the performance of affective labor—the production of affects and social relationships—as it comes to increasingly trouble the distinction between work and play. The formal dynamics of this seemingly lighthearted but strikingly vehement aesthetic, in which the potential for injury always seems right around the corner, are thus most sharply visible in arts of live a recorded performance—dance, Happenings, walkabouts, reenactments, game shows, video games—and in the arts of rhythm and movement in particular.
RUB8 took place as usual online on SonoBus, but we also gathered in person in my studio at the Helsinki International Artists Programme (HIAP). As soon as one enters my apartment they are in my studio, which was the dance floor. By the entrance is a flight of stairs that leads to the living area at the rear of the building; the VIP. Inbetween is a mezzanine, which overlooks the front half of the studio, which was the ‘DJ cockpit’.
Irina Mutt described her experience as ‘dancing in my bedroom in the dark, but with others.’ Fan Chon Hoo made note of the ‘technical glitches’ which returned him to the room and the current context — (another) reality — alluding to the way the sound ‘transports’ or ‘augments’ where one is physically present.
To explain: We began a little late and the set-up required physically switching inputs between performers, so I copied a back-up file to my hard drive to play during changeovers. It was the March podcast of fugitive frequency ‘Double Troubles’, a montage of recordings made at the demonstration against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Helsinki (26.2), mixed into a recording of a RUB live mix a few days before on 2.02.2022. Notably the protest interventions into the RUB8 broadcast were not designed or pre-determined, it was simply the first file I found. Furthermore ‘Double Troubles’ was made quite hastily as a document/reflection of that moment.
The programming of RUB can be thought of compositionally. It occurred on the night of the new moon; the black dot of the lunar cycle that lands on the grid of the Gregorian calendar. RUB didn’t occur on a consistent day of a week, arguably a more conventional way of running a regular event. I describe it like a ‘moving one’ in music composition, the ‘one’ being the beat that is stressed when counting a time signature. So, in terms of timing or composition, I want to stress that the inclusion of ‘Double Troubles’ was not planned, yet it became a critical juxtaposition to the other sounds being broadcast. I am interested in this kind of ‘synchronicity’ and how to keep developing events or happenings that remain open to this.
This special episode features an interview with Alanis Obomsawin, an Indigenous Abenaki filmmaker, singer, activist and ‘national treasure’ from Turtle Island/Canada. We spoke online late in February with reference to a major survey exhibition of Alanis’ life and work, ‘The Children Have to Hear Another Story’, 12 February – 18 April, at Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin.
Many thanks to Lilli Heinemann from HKW and Michael Shu from the National Film Board of Canada for making this possible.
Bush Lady (2018)
Vignettes: June in Povungnituk – Quebec Arctic (1980)
Over the Northern winter fugitive radio has hosted an online club RUB. Running on the night of the new moon, RUB modulates the ‘linear’ institutional rhythms of the Gregorian calendar and the ‘cyclical’ rhythms of lunar phases, with the ‘abstract’ rhythms of experimental dance music. RUB was inaugurated soon after the Autumn Equinox (22 September 2021) and its season will close on 1 April 2021 with the new moon following the Spring Equinox (20 March 2022).
‘April Fools’ and a new month — uusi kuu in Finnish — piles on the synchronicity and RUB8 promises to be a special affair! Dispensing with the club’s ‘no body policy’, for the finale we will gather online and also physically at HIAP studios in Suomenlinna, Helsinki. But there is a twist, clubbers will still only be able to enter RUB via audio. So, if you come to the island, bring headphones along with your smartphones and facemasks to join RUB8 ‘silent disco’.
RUB’s finale begins at sunset with somnambulant sounds from ½ asleep (Paola Jalili & Kush Badhwar), before we ride a genre fluid rollercoaster with DJ folk flore (Aliisa Talja) and dj fim do caminho (Sumugan Sivanesan) shrugs off winter with raw and tasty cuts of funk carioca and brega. As usual clubbers can join RUB on SonoBus, a free and open source multi-user audio platform, or listen to the livestream at fugitive-radio.net
RUB8 ‘silent disco’ season finale 19.00 – 22.00 EET
RUB6 on 2202.02.22 happened in dark mode and RUB7 desires to go darker still, as it moves towards the Spring Equinox on 20 March and a special ‘fooled moon’ event on 1 April. Join tonight on SonoBus or listen to the stream below. 23.00 EET/22.00 CET.
RUB is a club with a no body policy — literally no bodies in the room — but you can take the club to your room and to your body. RUB emphasises sound as a haptic sensation, as changes in air pressure vibrate the sensitive organs of our inner ear; sound pressure that scales with volume.
RUB runs on the night of the new moon, modulating the ‘cyclical rhythm’ of the lunar phase cycle with the rhythmic abstractions of bass musics. Its seemingly erratic placement according to the Gregorian calendar system (Sunday 2 January, Tuesday 1 February, Wednesday 2 March and Friday 1 April in 2022) is akin to a ‘shifting one’ in music composition, where the stress or the accent of the beat moves (with repetition) over time. Will RUB synergise with or clash against other scheduled events? Will anyone listen? Would anyone intervene? RUB began on the first new moon following the Autumn Equinox (22 Sept 2021), and will continue until the Spring Equinox (20 March 2022).