Arts of the Working Class Foodculture days extrablatt
Published in May 2021

When working in the context of site-specificity, in congruence with Miwon Kwon’s explanation of early definitions of site as “focused on establishing an inextricable, indivisible relationship between the work and its site, and demanded the physical presence of the viewer for the work’s completion,” [1] one is prompted to engage initially in the listening to and with the site, through modalities of sensorial interaction. Through listening, one engages with a site in a state of observation, allowing an intimate and at times abstracted absorption. What can one learn by listening? Listening traverses beyond the ingestion of sonic landscapes, it is an immersive tool that fertilizes the possibility of understanding peripheral ecologies. In the process of listening there is a sense of renunciation that transpires, the relinquishing of the grasp of selective hearing paves the way for learning through listening. How can we implement listening as a tool for cultivating reciprocity?

In Aural Oral, listening serves as a means to arrive, and as an integral precursor to response-ability, defined by Donna Haraway as “cultivating collective knowing and doing,” which illuminates an ethical capacity to respond. Aural Oral explores a meal as a sonic meditation, proposing a reflection on processes of cultivation, fabrication, and assembly. In the formality of the performance, the meal pairs a sonic cartography of ingredients with its consumption, each course accompanied by an auditory archive composed alongside the dish. The amplification of micro-actions through the ambient soundscape presents an examination of processes often silent or haphazardly witnessed. In Aural Oral, the minuscule gestures of the farmer and chef are magnified to illuminate the intricacies of these polychronic practices, offering an expanded sensorial relationship that extends beyond the domain of the gustatory. The series employs the experience of listening as a primary point of entry, as a means to enter an expanded observation of both sites of the meal’s preparation, the farm and the kitchen. The revealing of a myriad of micro-actions inherent in the preparation of food and its successive form as a meal instills a greater sense of awareness and engagement. This gesture encourages a moment of collective reflection, eliciting a space of inquiry. In an imagined chronology of potential response to the current environmental crisis, Anna Tsing’s arts of noticing could be positioned as the first rung on the ladder towards creating more sustainable habits, succeeded by Haraway’s notion of response-ability, an amalgamated process which first instills awareness and subsequently inspires action. These two sequential modes of awareness are individualized experiences, bound by their own duration, and both implemented by Aural Oral to propose immersive listening as a catalyst to various potential states of response.

[1] Kwon, Miwon. (2002) One Place After Another.