Forum Artistic Research

Lecture Performance

Navel, Ear of God. Decolonial Listening and Situated Making

Sophie Fetokaki

on  Fri, 15:45in  Neuer Saalfor  30min

The seed sprouted in a dream. I am sitting on the floor, surrounded by fresh louvi. I hear the sound of the word, louvi, the Greek-Cypriot word for the black-eyed bean, a humble traditional dish of Cyprus. In my dream, I am sitting in a gallery shelling the peas, carefully unzipping the pod and popping out each bean one at a time. Five years later, in October 2023, I am artist in residence at Xarkis Festival in Cyprus. The curatorial team is exploring the relationship between heritage and contemporary artistic practices through a lens of feminist care ethics. I have proposed a piece called “φρούτα ονείρων · dream fruit.” It is to be a four-hour participatory performance, during which I will invite the public to assist me in shelling 30 kg of fresh louvi. I spend the residency carefully preparing the space of our encounter: I make a four-channel sound installation which I will diffuse live, including field recordings featuring interviews with Mr. Kostas and Mrs. Toulla, the couple – both refugees from northern Cyprus – who grew and harvested the louvi, in lands within the UN buffer zone near their home; I write three short scripts to be read by groups of three audiences members at a time; I gather the equipment to clean, prepare and serve the louvi to the public. During the performance, conversation begins to sprout between Greek and Turkish Cypriots among us. They discuss home, land, displacement and longing, as Mr. Kostas and Mrs. Toulla’s voices spoke softly to us, voices I sent to different corners of the space in which we were assembled, improvising along with the conversation as it unfolded. Drawing on decolonial listening frameworks developed by Amanda Gutiérrez, Rolando Vázquez, Grace Lee-Amuzie and Francis Sosta, as well as theories of social reproduction, gendered and racialised labour and feminist care ethics, I am currently immersed in the work of ordering the audiovisual documentation of this event into a video essay, which I propose to share at Forum Artistic Research 2024. This video essay draws on my previous work in situated making (Fetokaki 2022), a methodology of performance-creation rooted in situated knowledge and relationship to place. I bring the methods of situated making into dialogue with practices and theorisations of decolonial listening, with the aim of sketching out a method of artistic practice as the preparation of the ground for future acts of listening that can take place during a performance.

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