Anabelle Lacroix - (Non)Sleep as Social Practice
Instagram takeover on 9 May 2020
Society is defined by the habits by which it is composed
What does our sleep pattern reveal about humanity in post-modernity? How can we think through sleep in relation to culture, race, gender and socio-economic disparities?
How can we take repossession of the city at night?
As part of a curatorial residency at ZKU, I undertook research to developed a cross-disciplinary project focusing on the politics of sleeplessness.
Trouble with sleeping is symptomatic of the techno-capitalist 24/7 society that we live in. Insomnia is an economic priority for governments, as a public health epidemic and threat to productivity. While sleeplessness is traditionally seen as a disorder, sleeplessness has ties to knowledge and many forms of ‘awakening’.
The status of sleeplessness in society is also symptomatic of normalization, binary-thinking and mass synchronization. Can our thinking on sleeplessness be flipped to be used as a tool to dissolve dichotomies, forms of othering and acknowledge difference? Can we help each other to turn insomnia into positive thinking, into listening?
(Non)Sleep as Social Practice was born out of an overnight workshop between residents at ZK/U in February 2020, embodying collectivism as a counter force to individualisation and anxiety. We cooked and eat together, created alternative occupations of ZK/U spaces at night. During listening sessions—comfortably installed in the residency lobby—we talked about structures of time and control, listening and voicing.
The workshop, and the diagram above, became a score for a larger event, a radio program that you can listen to below. With Covid-19 the event was contained to a broadcast presented by Threads*sub_ʇxǝʇ online radio. This program is an audio research-diary for a range of exhibitions, performances and publications that will unfold in 2020 and 2021.
BROADCAST: (NON)SLEEP AS SOCIAL PRACTICE PRESENTED BY THREADS*SUB_ʇXƎʇ ONLINE RADIO.
22-23 March 10pm-7am
(Non)Sleep as Social Practice focuses on the politics of sleeplessness, desynchronization between the body and society, the individual and the group. The program investigates the potential for collective socialites to reclaim night time as a form of resistance against individualizing and homogenizing forces through sound and listening. For the duration of one’s night of sleep, the program featured a range of international artists, experimental musicians and radio makers to navigate through cycles of ‘dissonances’, ‘releases’ and ‘awakenings’.
DISSONANCE #1: (NON)SLEEP AS COLLECTIVE, AND SOCIAL PRACTICE
An introduction to this program that will explore structures of time and control, movements of falling and rising. Sleep is a point of amplification for other fears and anxieties in contemporary times. We suggest that sleeping is a social and cultural practice that can be used to rethink relationships between our bodies and society, between individuals and groups. In this time of social isolation, we open this first movement with a sound piece that connects localities and times through the sounds we hear upon waking and falling asleep.
RELEASE #1: FALLING: DECONSTRUCTIONS OF THE MIND AND TIME
In this section, the composition by Biliana Voutchkova (which was part of a performance piece by Grace Euna Kim) slowly unfolds as a sonic tool to deconstruct psychological structures imposed by society’s normalized systems that are embedded in our bodies. Perception of time itself is questioned as form of pressure upon strict periods of sleep and wakefulness. Méryll Ampe’s new release ‘Residues of Time’ played here and throughout the program was composed over a year, in exploring durational processes and working with residues of sound materials.
AWAKENING #1: POLITICAL AWAKENINGS: ON UPRISINGS AND DE-
Sleeping and being awake are both revolutionary acts. With his section we look at this long tradition through Anna Della Subin’s book “Not Dead but Sleeping” and a speech by Martin Luther King. Awakening is a common metaphor for political movements and uprisings, particularly in relation to de-colonisation. We discuss Achile Membe’s idea of ‘coming out of dark night’ in a French context, and are also transported to the streets of Khartoum during the Sudanese Revolution last year with tracks composed by the collective Apocrypha.
RELEASE #2: COLLAPSE
The final release: collapse. A focus on Grace Euna Kim’s research into the psychic life of ideology, and the body as a site of resistance in crisis.
DISSONANCE #2: SLEEP, COGNITIVE CAPITALISM AND BIO-CAPITAL: ON CONTROL AND NORMALISATION, ANXIETY, SILENCING AND DEVIANT KNOWLEDGE
In these early hours of the morning you are invited to find periods of rest to explore the porous states that lay between sleep and unsleep with talks and experimental music. During an interview with Alex Head we discuss deviant knowledge, entropy and forms of othering, and with Gustavo Sanromán Vázquez we unpack ideas of cognitive capitalism, and the current cultural shift in brain hacking and the pharmakon. Subliminal messaging and sleep
programming for self-performance and healing is also explored by Nathan Gray. Through sound we experience speed, attunement and empowerment. We focus on the body, on listening in, with and through our bodies, and think about anxiety as an alarm bell to take action.
AWAKENING 2: DAWN, TRANSITIONS & NEW COSMOLOGIES: MULTI-LEVEL AND QUEER LISTENING
This last movement deals with binaries, the binaries of day and night —and other integrated binaries— through a process of slow transformation and transition. We focus on what we are not used to listen to, as well as thinking about other forms of listening to normalised listening. We explore feminist, queer and multi-level listening with a reading from Gloria Anzaldúa and Work vs./& Abstraction + Feelings (at night), cosmic listening with David Clark as well as alien listening with sounds from the deep past. At the end of the program, Danilo Correale prepares us for a post-work society and indirectly reflects the role of art in the specific times that we live in.
ARTISTS & CONTRIBUTORS:
Pia Achternkamp aka. loh; Katja Aglert; Félicia Atkinson; Méryll Ampe;
Apocrypha | أبوكريفا; Critical Techno (; David Clark: Nothing to See Here;
Danilo Correale; Dis Fig; Nathan Gray and The Weirding Module; Alex Head on Deviancy; Khalab feat Tenesha The Wordsmith; Grace Euna Kim & Biliana Voutchkova; Petra Klepcová; Josephine Mead; Jannah Quill; Geoff Robinson; Muhammad Salah; Gustavo Sanromán Vázquez, Shackleton; Anthea Caddy and Thembi Sodell; Byungseo Yoo
Work vs./& Abstraction + Feelings (at night):
Klara Ström; Vera Vice (Ave Vellesalu & Helen Västrik); Eero Pulkkinen & Eeva-Maija Pulkkinen; Ana Gutieszca; Vilja Vee (Niko Tiinanen); Nadine Byrne; Helena Pulkkinen & Saara Taipale and Frank Rizzo
A Full track list and project archive is available on subtext’s website: https://www.subtextradio.net/non-sleep-as-social-practice
(Non)Sleep as Social Practice was curated by Anabelle Lacroix. sub_ʇxǝʇ is an itinerant platform for research, discussion and sonic knowledge production. It produces and distributes radio programmes across a thematic spectrum ranging from investigative reporting to experimental sound and music. Threads*sub_ʇxǝʇ is the sister-studio of Threads Radio (London) based at ZK/U and elsewhere in Berlin, Germany. It builds on the dynamic interconnectivity of the ZK/U echoing its drive towards meaning-creation and disruption in the urban sphere.