History is Listening. Re-Sonifying Nuremberg
What can the perception of sound contribute to a reflection on history? How can perspectives on history be expanded and shifted with the help of sound? Louis Chude-Sokei, scholar, author and sound culture expert, has, in cooperation with international musicians and theorists, turned the former Nuremberg Nazi Party Rally Grounds into the matter of an acoustic experiment. He invited the sound artist Yara Mekawei, the artist and musician Jan St. Werner, the singer Hani Mojtahedy, the violinist Gascia Ouzounian and others to explore the echo of the historically tainted site and to reflect on it with artistic means.
Here, on the 11-square-kilometre grounds where the NSDAP staged their party rallies between 1933 and 1938, the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds has been carrying out important educational and educational work since 2001. However, major events are also held here, and they often deliberately neglect the historical context of the location. This was the starting point of the project, with the aim of opening up new artistic perspectives onto this place through performative perception, sound installations and texts. Combined with site-specific music and sound performances, the group will present their project at the Akademie der Künste at Pariser Platz.
Accompanying programme to the POWER SPACE VIOLENCE. Planning and Building under National Socialism exhibition.
Michael Akstaller is a visual artist, researcher and performer. He has been working at the Federal Institute for Hydraulic Engineering in Karlsruhe since 2017. Together with Jan St. Werner, he initiated the class for Dynamic Acoustic Research at the AdBK Nuremberg. In 2022, he started an hydroacoustic research project related to the influence of sound on the migration behavior of fish in the river Elbe. In his artistic work Akstaller deals with the relationships between sound and space and is researching methods for expanding spatial perception via directed sound sources.
Louis Chude-Sokei is a scholar and writer whose work includes The Last Darky: Bert Williams, Black on Black Minstrelsy and the African Diaspora (2005), The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2015) and a memoir, Floating in A Most Peculiar Way (2021). His Technologie Und Race: Essays der Migration (2023) was recently published in Germany. He is professor of English and director of the African American Studies Program at Boston University. He is also the Editor in Chief of The Black Scholar, the premiere journal of Black Studies in the United States and founder of the sonic art and archival project, Echolocution.
Yara Mekawei is a sound artist and scholar. Her sonic bricolages draw inspiration from the dynamic flow of urban centers and the key infrastructure of cities. Interested in architecture, social history, and philosophical literature, her work is based on sound as an essential tool of vision. Her practice is research-based, intimately connecting the ideologies of the mythic past to the technologies of the eternal present. She is currently working on a sonic composition based on Sufi philosophy and the methodology of the Book of the Dead. Mekawei uses her research to unite her work, which reveals intangible aspects of her cultural identity and femininity from and in an East African society.
Hani Mojtahedy is an artist and professional singer from the Iranian province Kordestân, based in Berlin since 2004. She has released numerous recordings and music videos, and has performed in TV shows, at concerts and festivals all over the world, mixing traditional Persian vocals and Kurdish lyrics with multiple genres of popular music. She worked with the Bundesjugendballet and the Czech National Symphony Orchestra for the Kurdish symphony “Peshmerga” composed by Dilshad Said. Due to her long commitment to the people of Kurdistan and those on the Iran-Iraq border, the Middle East Sustainable Peace Organization (MESPO) chose her as “symbol of peace in the middle east” during the Kurdistan International Peace Carnival.
Gascia Ouzounian is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, where she leads the European Research Council-funded project Sonorous Cities: Towards a Sonic Urbanism. Her work as a historian, theorist, and practitioner is concerned with sound in relation to space, urbanism, technologies, and violence. She is the author of Stereophonica: Sound and Space in Science, Technology, and the Arts (2021) and numerous articles in journals of visual culture, music, sound studies, and architecture. Recent projects include “Scoring the City”, which explores experimental notations for urban design; and “Acoustic Cities: London & Beirut”.
Jan St. Werner is co-founder of the music group Mouse on Mars and releases music under his own name via the Edition Fiepblatter Catalog. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he was part of the Cologne collective A-Musik, worked with Markus Popp (Oval) as Microstoria, developed music for installations and films by the visual artist Rosa Barba and was Artistic Director of STEIM (Amsterdam). He created sound interventions and exhibitions in for the ICA London, documenta 14, Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden, HKW Berlin or Lenbachhaus Munich. Werner was Visiting Lecturer at the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Professor for Dynamic Acoustic Research at the Academy of Fine Arts in Nuremberg and Visiting Professor for Sound and Performance at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich.