Solastalgia: Losing Our Basis for Existence Time to Listen
Continuing a series of events devoted to climate and environment crises, Time to Listen marks the beginning of a programme with a distinct thematic focus that will run through autumn 2023. Its key concerns revolve around participation, cultural education and sustainable modes of production. Many Akademie der Künste members have taken a clear position on this topic. They are involved in a variety of initiatives, and their contributions form the basis of the festival.
At the opening event, four Akademie members express their fundamental alarm about the environmental crisis in their own languages. Writer Kathrin Röggla, the vice president of the Akademie der Künste, gets the ball rolling by setting out the Akademie’s current position on climate and sustainability. How does art “speak” about these issues? Composer Iris ter Schiphorst, deputy director of the Music Section and a member of the European Alliance of Academies’ climate team, lays out the facts of the climate and environmental crises and asks how art and culture might respond to them.
The festival programme begins with works by two members representing personal, artistic answers to the above question: Art can touch hearts and be a catalyst for awareness. It can make you listen and pay attention. It can express feelings and address emotions that we recognise and suppress. It can bring us together.
Cécile Wajsbrot, deputy director of the Literature Section and a member of the European Alliance of Academies’ climate team, reads from her episodic work Adieu à l’hiver (Farewell to Winter). She speaks about the extinction of the human race, her words accompanied by a sound collage by Carola Bauckholt, director of the Music Section. Bauckholt and Karin Hellqvist’s composition Solastalgia is concerned with the feeling that arises when faced with the sense, be it actual or anticipated, that the climate crisis is causing nature to wane. It is a kind of mourning, mingled with fear and impotence in the face of loss. The composition takes as its starting point field recordings of glaciers and ice, as enormous ice blocks collide: the piece evolved from Hellqvist’s renderings of these sounds on the violin. The recordings are compressed into an eight-channel feed. Played live in concert, Hellqvist’s solo violin responds to this, an individual voice interacting with a polyphonic ensemble. In addition, we watch salt crystals forming in a film by Eric Lanz, a metaphor for melting ice.
The festival programme has come into being over several years through the committed work of the Music Section, operating in conjunction with other sections whose contributions are drawn from literature and the visual arts. The E-Studio and the Akademie’s KUNSTWELTEN education programme are also important pillars of the programme.
The festival team includes Peter Ablinger, Annesley Black, Carola Bauckholt, Julia Gerlach, Kirsten Reese, Iris ter Schiphorst and Manos Tsangaris. Carola Bauckholt and Julia Gerlach curated the final programme.
Opening: Kathrin Röggla
Keynote: Iris ter Schiphorst
Cécile Wajsbrot: Reading from Adieu à l’hiver (with English and German subtitles) and a sound collage by Carola Bauckholt
Carola Bauckholt and Karin Hellqvist: Solastalgia (2020–23, 20 min), for violin, tape and video
Eric Lanz: video; Karin Hellqvist: violin
Commission by Swedish Arts Grants Committee
Followed by the exhibition opening with sound installations by Peter Ablinger, Claudia González Godoy, Susie Ibarra, Jacob Kirkegaard, FrauVonDa, Winfried Ritsch, Daniel Rothman
Part of the festival Time to Listen. The Ecological Crisis in Sound and Music