Sound Art Exhibition (27 April – 19 May): Oscillations – Cape Town to Berlin – Sonic Inquiries and Practices

Critical listening is the first step toward an ethics and aesthetics of care and freedom. Discarding listening habits and accepting new sound qualities afford access to other layers of history and experience.

Artists from South Africa and Germany share their listening experiences in new sound works. They reveal fractures in South Africa’s post-apartheid society, offer modes of transformation and healing, and question the ownership of sound in a postcolonial transhemispheric frame of reference. The title Oscillations refers, in the first instance, to the physical space in which vibrations develop, combine, and reverberate and in which we perceive them audibly. It also opens up a metaphorical space for translations, transmissions, vibrations and transformations as variations of a sonic engagement with the world, the environment and forms of cultural dialogue. The project is driven by the desire to eliminate economic and cultural hegemonies and arrive at a deeper understanding of diversity without invoking stereotypical images. Sounds from familiar and unfamiliar environments are deconstructed and reconstructed, unfolding a wealth of meaning to listeners. Indigenous sound practices and spirituality are combined with the latest technologies and contemporary forms of artistic expression.

During a two-year process, the project partners – the Akademie der Künste, the Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape and Deutschlandfunk Kultur – have created a space for exchange, artist residencies, collaboration, and the creation of new sound works. Seven artists were selected on the basis of an open call in southern Africa and, together with three “catalytic artists”, they form the project’s artistic team. Residencies in Berlin and Cape Town were set up to facilitate research, sound recordings and the development of project-specific technologies for the new works. Under the guidance of a steering committee drawn from the various institutions cooperating on the project, all the different components were calibrated and tuned to one another.

The newly created sound works are now assembled in dialogue in the exhibition at the Akademie der Künste. In parallel, the research has given rise to radio productions broadcast on Deutschlandfunk Kultur. On the opening weekend, the installative works will be accompanied and augmented by performances, DJ sets, artist tours and talks.

“We are grateful for the intense impact these oscillations have had on our ways of conceiving sound, art and knowledge. Together, we look forward to hearing their reverberations in the social space constituted by this exhibition.

Our special thanks go to the ten Oscillations artists: Muhammad Dawjee, Garth Erasmus, Zara Julius, Nkosenathi Koela, Christina Kubisch, Mpho Molikeng, Gabi Motuba, Neo Muyanga, Denise Onen, Kirsten Reese.”

Aidan Erasmus, Julia Gerlach, Marcus Gammel, Heidi Grunebaum, Valmont Layne, Lee Walters (The Steering Committee).

Deutschlandfunk Kultur radio sonic pieces:

In the press

Media Partners

Oscillations is a project of the Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape (Cape Town) and Deutschlandfunk Kultur / Klangkunst (Berlin).

Sponsored by the TURN2 fund of the German Federal Cultural Foundation. Sponsored by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media.

Supported by the DAAD arts & media programmeKulturstiftung Schloss Wiepersdorf and National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences (NIHSS).