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Collaborative aesthetics in global sound art

English title Collaborative aesthetics in global sound art
Applicant Schoon Andi
Number 200896
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Institut Y Hochschule der Künste Bern Berner Fachhochschule
Institution of higher education Berne University of Applied Sciences - BFH
Main discipline Musicology
Start/End 01.10.2021 - 30.09.2025
Approved amount 717'776.00
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All Disciplines (3)


Keywords (9)

Collaboration; Decolonialization; Sound Art; Global South; Postcolonialism; Morocco; Pro Helvetia; Sound Studies; South Africa

Lay Summary (German)

Über die letzten Jahre ist im Globalen Süden eine neue Generation von Künstler*innen entstanden, deren Praxis eine kritische Auseinandersetzung mit Klang auf konzeptioneller, materieller und affektiver Ebene zeigt.
Lay summary

Diese Initiativen zeugen von einer reflektierten Haltung gegenüber den Kräften der Globalisierung und gleichzeitig von einer kreativen Auseinandersetzung mit neuen Formen des Seins und Handelns in der Welt. Sie spielen sich in transnationalen Netzwerken ab und kombinieren digitale Interventionsformen mit Offline-Aktivitäten.
Das Forschungsprojekt konzentriert sich auf drei Fallstudien: Studie A untersucht neuere Projekte, die in Südafrika im Rahmen des Residenzprogramms der Schweizer Kulturstiftung Pro Helvetia initiiert wurden. Unsere Forschung interessiert sich dafür, ob und wie sich der kulturdiplomatische Rahmen auf die geförderten Projekte auswirkt. Studie B konzentriert sich auf Musikproduktionen transnationaler Musikkollektive, die für ihre experimentelle Klangästhetik bekannt sind. Studie C befasst sich mit Internetradio-Projekten aus Marokko, Südafrika und Deutschland, die einen dekolonialen Klangkunst-Ansatz verfolgen. Die Daten zu den Fallstudien werden durch Archiv- und Feldforschung erhoben. 

Das Forschungsprojekt fragt nach der Rolle, den Möglichkeiten und der Ästhetik der Zusammenarbeit – einem Konzept, das in den 1990er Jahren in der Künsten wieder aufkam. Auf der Grundlage dialogischer und interventionistischer Strategien gehen kollaborative Kunstformen heute über das ästhetische Objekt hinaus und umfassen breitere Formen des öffentlichen Engagements. Infolgedessen hat sich die Aufgabe der Künstler*innen von der "Inhaltsproduktion" hin zu einer "epistemischen Partnerschaft" bei der Konstruktion von sozialem Wissen entwickelt.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 07.10.2021

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Project partner

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
163033 Listen, that's us! A sound ethnography on the local reception of the Paul Bowles collection of Moroccan traditional music 01.02.2016 Project funding


A new generation of artists has emerged in the Global South in recent years, whose practices demonstrate a direct and critical engagement with sound on a conceptual, material, and affective level. Sound artists, experimental musicians, and radio producers operate across transnational networks, combining remote digital modes of interventions (streaming, social media and file transfer) with offline activities (performance, exhibitions, workshops). These initiatives generally attest to a critical attitude by artists towards the forces of globalization and simultaneously to a creative engagement with new modes of being and action in the world. Sanne Krogh Groth speaks of a “global turn in sound art” (Groth 2020) that presents a number of challenges for the fields of sound studies and sound art history: necessary rewritings in those fields need to be acutely aware of issues of globalization, postcolonialism, and decolonialization; they need to contrast digital representations of such practices with ethnographic accounts attesting of their situatedness and particular contexts of production; and they should make aesthetic considerations central to their analysis (ibid.). The proposed research project engages with global sound art and experimental music by focusing in particular on the role, capacities and aesthetics of collaboration, a concept which re-emerged in the arts in the 1990s (Papastergiadis 2012). Based on dialogical and interventionist strategies, collaborative art forms now extend beyond the aesthetic object and include wider forms of public engagement. As a result, the role of the artist has moved from the position of a “content producer” to that of an “epistemic partner” and “mediator” in the construction of social knowledge (ibid.).The research project is interested in how collaborative strategies inform and constitute practices in global sound art, particularly in regard to the declared intentions by some art collectives to resist and counter re-inscriptions of colonialism in the social and aesthetic fields. We would like to know: What collaborative strategies are mobilized by global sound art collectives? How do they understand their role as mediator between politics and aesthetics? In what ways does this provide them with agency in their wider social and institutional fields of intervention? And what new microsocialities, imaginaries, material processes and aesthetic forms are enabled through such practices? The project focuses on three case studies, which we believe provide relevant examples of different collaborative practices in global sound art, while simultaneously raising questions regarding potential colonial re-inscriptions in the contexts through which they operate. Subproject A examines recent collaborative sound art/music projects initiated in South Africa as part of the residency program by the Swiss Cultural Foundation Pro Helvetia. This research is interested in how the decolonial agenda claimed by these art initiatives is negotiated in regard to the institutional cultural diplomatic framework that enables them, a context potentially prone to cultural re-inscriptions of Switzerland’s former apartheid-friendly politics in the region (Kreis 2005; Purtschert 2020). Subproject B focuses on music productions by three transnational music collectives from the Global South that are known for their experimental sound aesthetics and global mode of operation. Collaboration will be addressed in particular from the perspective of “sonic fiction” (Eshun 1998, Schulze 2020), and as a means for the music collectives to re-articulate and challenge post-colonial realities through artistic forms of resistance. Subproject C engages with five Internet radio projects from Morocco, South Africa, and Germany, which follow a decolonial sound art approach. This subproject asks how collaboration takes new shapes via the potential offered by participatory digital media (Web 2.0) and “hybridized radio formats” (Cordeiro 2011), while being increasingly constrained by forces that are actively constructing the Internet as a “hostile environment” (Risam 2019) through cultural mainstreaming, censorship, and neoliberal “platformization” (Berry and Dieter 2015). Data on the case studies will be collected through archival and field research, principally in Switzerland, South Africa, Morocco, and Germany, and online whenever possible. Informed by recent accounts in global sound studies, sound art, and musicology, these data will be interpreted according to four planes of social mediation: “microsocialities”; “imaginaries”; “wider social relations”; and “broader institutional forces” (see Born 2015). In addition, the project will rely on the practice-based, “co-creative” (Ferguson et al. 2015) research methodology already successfully implemented in the team’s previous research on postcolonial aurality in North Africa (SNSF-No. 163033). The outputs will be a doctoral thesis in book form, several articles, an edited volume, and a project-related sound art exhibition (funded separately).