UNTRAINING THE EAR:
Art's Birthday edition

In 1963, the fluxus icon Robert Filliou dedicated the 17th of January to the birthday of arts, celebrating then its 1.000.000 return. Since then, countless celebrations take place on this day around the world, with artists and institutions celebrating Art with performances, concerts, exhibitions and more. One of the many contributions to the global celebration is a daylong radio festival produced by the EBU Euroradio Ars Acustica group. Birthday gifts – concerts and performances – are being broadcast on Euroradio's satellite network.

This year – on the 1.000.057th birthday – SAVVY Contemporary, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and ORF are joining the worldwide party with a network concert from Berlin, Vienna, Cairo and Istanbul with the group HEYA and a performance by Tomoko Sauvage. Klangkunst/ Deutschlandfunk Kultur will broadcast from the space of SAVVY Contemporary. Live Concerts and sound works will be performed in the library and gallery space and will be aired live on DFK and various European radio stations simultaneously.

With  Untraining The Ear, we propose exercises to decipher sound beyond its contextual affiliation of geography, genre, and valences of identity. It is an attempt to press II [pause] to the daily storm of sonic vibrations, and voice a call to examine and explore the auditory beyond the hearing and start to LISTEN. This exercise, becomes an instant, immaterial and transportable exhibition space that suggests listening in-between radio frequencies and between frequencies, the lines of time and language. A momentarily network of listening transcending geographical restrictions imposed onto bodies. The session, happening only partially at SAVVY Contemporary but in real-time and simultaneously in Cairo, Tehran, and Beirut, is an attempt to collectively exercise the process of (un)training and (re)train, (de)constructing and (re)construct normative hearing, and giving spaces to non-normative listening formats of listening.

The first contribution to the celebration will be by the collective HEYA: Heya [heeya / هي] (‘she’ in Arabic and also a friendly greeting in English) is a research project facilitated by PhD researcher, sound artist and composer Jilliene Sellner that works towards bridging women who make sound, noise, field recordings, experimental music, and electronic music and a global audience. The main geographical areas of focus are Cairo, Tehran and Beirut as a set of examples of homogenous contexts but which all have blossomed since the Arab and Green Springs. The work is a live networked performance collaboration between Nour Sokhon in Berlin, Jilliene Sellner in Vienna, Yara Mekawei in Cairo and Zeynep Ayşe Hatipoğlu in Istanbul. The performance uses the collaborative “distributed listening” app LiveShout (developed by Dr Franziska Schroeder and Prof Pedro Rebelo at Queens University, Belfast) and the LocusSonus soundmap which allow performers to “jam” remotely.

Tomoko Sauvage will perform the second contribution. Over the past decade, Sauvage has been working on a “natural synthesizer” of her invention. Porcelain bowls, water drops, waves and bubbles as well as hydroponic feedback and electronics are the main ingredients of her waterbowls, her instrument that generates the sculptural and fluid timbre. Her musical experimentation is grounded on a live-performance-based practice that investigates improvisation and interaction with the environment – the acoustic space and medium affected by architecture, temperature, humidity and human presence. Through primordial elements augmented by technology, enlivened by ritualistic yet playful gestures, Sauvage's work contemplates, tunes and connects with both the material and the immaterial in keeping a fragile balance between hazard and mastery.

JILLIENE SELLNERis a Canadian sound artist and scientist. She currently lives in the UK. She works with field recordings, sound and podcasts, composes soundtracks for artistic video works and gives podcast lessons in non-profit organizations. She studied at Simon Fraser University in Canada and at the University for the Creative Arts in England. "Heya" is part of her doctoral thesis at the University of Sussex.

NOUR SOKHONworks on sound performances, installations and moving images. She studied art at the American University in Dubai and the Glasgow School of Art. In 2019 she received the Emerging Artist Prize of the Sursock Museum. She is a member of the collective Tse Tse Fly Middle East and Glitch Artists and part of the duo NSTANT with Stephanie Merchak.

YARA MEKAWAIlives in Cairo as an electronic musician and sound artist. Her work is inspired by architectural theory, urbanism, history and literature. So she uses sound as a tool for seeing. She is currently working on the online radio project Radio Submarine, in which she presents the music culture of another African country every week.

ZEYNEP AYŞE HATIPOĞLUis a cellist and doctoral student at the Center for Advanced Studies in Music at Istanbul Technical University. She composes non-traditional music. As a member of various experimental ensembles, she has performed all over Europe.

TOMOKO SAUVAGEis a sound artist based in Paris. After studying jazz piano, Indian music and improvisation of Hindustani music, she became interested in the element and sound of water. She has published two solo albums including the recent “Musique Hydromantique” (Shelter Press, 2017) and her compositions have been diffused through radio and TV: BBC, France Musique, NPR and ORF. Sauvage’s performances have been presented at international festivals and venues including: The Long Now – Maerz Musik (Berlin), Centre Popidou Metz, Roskilde Festival, Unsound Festival (Krakow), Nyege Nyege Festival (Uganda) and Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art. Her installation work has been exhibited at art centers and museums such as: Ex Teresa (Mexico City) and Empty Gallery (Hong Kong). In 2016, she was artist in residence at Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (Colorado).

With the Listening Sessions, SAVVY Contemporary, Deutschlandfunk Kultur and CTM Festival suggest an alternative way to listen to music and sound. In order to contextualise how we listen to the world today we also need to replay the past of abounding sonic references. We (the audience, the performers, the space, the radio, the moderators and the technicians) will rhetorically navigate through archives of maverick composers in the attempt to reindex their contributions, to create other possible genealogies and narratives. By involving sound practitioners coming from diverse genres to perform, and scholars to discuss works of the composers, we listen back to the influence and ingeniosity of musicians and sound artists who defy the linearity of 20th century avant-garde music history. We would like to shed light on and unbox works of pioneers such as Halim El-Dabh, Eliane Radigue, Jose Maceda to mention a few. We will also commission new works to echo and reflect (with a contemporary take) rare archival body of works that have been marginalised by history of avant-garde music and sound art.