Xenia Benivolski: Do Rocks Listen?
September 17, 2022 from noon to 3:30pm
Saturday, September 17, 2022 from noon to 3:30
In The Voice of Things, Beth Archer Brombert, translating Francis Ponge, writes that “water collapses all the time, constantly sacrifices all form, tends only to humble itself, flattens itself onto ground.”* Recent events around the agency and legal representation of water have been framed by a larger conversation on climate change, extractivism, and constructed borderlands that limit mobility for humans, wildlife, and capital. Often, activism gives voice to the agents that cannot speak. From eco-politics to questions of territory, the fate of the Earth is increasingly relegated to the legal embrace of personhood as a rights-giving concept, but how should that person be, what are the implications for public policy, and what kind of labour theory subsets the shift? In the context of Lou Sheppard’s exhibition Rights of Passage is an opportunity to explore connections between topological and political surfaces that foster ‘passage’ and to discuss the complex narratives of rocks, water, and political dynamics through sound, reading, and listening.
This multi-form workshop will include a listening session of an excerpt of Raven Chacon’s Silent Choir (Standing Rock): a 2016–17 artwork which records protesters at Standing Rock in North Dakota, followed by a discussion on the natural rights of water and rocks and a close and critical reading of Do Rocks Listen?, a 1995 essay by Elizabeth A. Povinelli that “juxtapose[es] Western and Belyuen ways of understanding what happens when humans act in the natural environment and their economic and politico-jural consequences” It will culminate in a collective participatory performance of Pauline Oliveros’ Rock Piece, 1989, at the nearby Black Creek. Together, we will explore the ethical and legal responsibilities of interacting with natural forms and the entanglements between rocks, water, labour, memory, and morphology.
The workshop will begin at the AGYU and end outdoors so please dress appropriately.
Xenia Benivolski curates, writes, and lectures about sound, music, and visual art. Her writing appears in art publications and academic journals such as e-flux journal, Artforum, Art-Agenda, Infrasonica, and Flash Art. She is editor and curator of You Can’t Trust Music at e-flux.com, a research project connecting sound-based artists, musicians, and writers to explore together the way that landscape, acoustics, and musical thought contribute to the formation of social and political structures. Xenia contributes to the Worker as Futurist project at Lakehead University.
*Francis Ponge as translated by Beth Archer Brombert, The Voice of Things (McGraw-Hill Book Co, 1972), 50.