Join us for an online event organised by Kunstlicht dedicated to celebrating the World Taste & Smell Day. This event will feature contributors from the Nosetalgia issue, including artists, perfumers, and scholars, engaging in captivating discussions about the intersection of smell and nostalgia, and how olfaction bridges the gap between memories and emotions.
“The interdisciplinary contributions to the Kunstlicht Nosetalgia issue reinforced the cultural importance of our sense of smell and how it fuels our daily life, interactions and memories. We hope that this event helps start new conversations around our sense of smell and how it enriches our lives as well as draws new audiences.” – Sofia Collette Ehrich
World Taste & Smell Day, observed annually on September 14th, serves as a global platform to honour and appreciate the essential senses of taste and smell. Established during the pandemic, this day underscores the importance of taste and smell and extends support to individuals navigating taste and smell impairments, as well as innovators, creators, and scientists.
Millions across the globe contend with taste and smell impairments. The COVID-19 pandemic drew attention to these challenges. While smell or taste loss linked to the virus has largely subsided, over 27 million individuals worldwide continue to grapple with chemosensory loss. Additionally, approximately 5% of the global population already experience smell dysfunctions due to various causes such as brain injuries, diseases, drug reactions, chemical exposure, and congenital anosmia.
Guest editor: Manuela Zammit
Deadline: 31 August 2023
Published: February 2024
“From the continuous flow and punctuations of the audible, a range of capacities and potentialities may be found. In particular, the shifting flows of vibrancy and reverberance that often shape our interactions with the world and with others…”
Brandon LaBelle, Sonic Agency: Sound and Emergent Forms of Resistance.
We are thrilled to announce a call for papers for the upcoming issue of Kunstlicht dedicated to the theme of reverberant ecologies. We are looking forward to explore the interconnectedness and interdependence of ecological systems through the affordances of sound and sonic practices.
In the face of a rapidly unfolding climate catastrophe and widening social and economic inequalities, we find ourselves in urgent need of alternative ways of relating to ourselves, other humans, non-humans, and the material world at large. Western ocularcentric systems of knowledge (including artistic ones) have for a long time relied too much on sight as the privileged sense through which to engage with the world. In their quest for enacting ways of relating otherwise, contemporary artists have been tuning into the world’s vibrational energy.
Often informed by methods and theories from sound studies, eco-acoustics, and acoustemology, among other fields, artists have been working with the fluid materiality of sound – or what Salomé Voegelin has termed as “sound’s invisible formlessness” – to understand how sonic waves actively produce material reality, and to access dimensions of reality that continuously elude vision. Sound artist and theorist Brandon LaBelle has observed that, “As forceful movements – of rhythmic and resonant intensities, of vibrational and volumetric interruptions – sound works to unsettle and exceed arenas of visibility by relating us to the unseen, the non-represented or the not-yet-apparent…” In other words, becoming more attuned to the sonic dimension of our material reality, is one way to rethink specific assumptions about aspects of material reality that rely on sight, such as culturally-constructed delineations of material entities. Artistic engagement with sound and its affordances has indeed been shifting the focus from practices of representation to practices of mediation, and from practices of looking to those of (deep) listening and attunement.
For instance, Dora Budor’s Adaptation of an Instrument (2016) is a dynamic environment where the audience’s moving bodies within the art space animate the amphibian rain scene from the 1999 film Magnolia that is installed in the ceiling. In this work and various others, Budor employs vibrational frequency, including the volume of the audience’s voice, as an affective force that induces a performative (re)action in the work. Here, the traditional subject-object relation is subverted by establishing an atmospheric relation between the audience and the artwork, where the air functions as a transformative space that turns sound into light or movement.
In Acoustic Ocean (2018), Ursula Biemann sets out to explore the sonic ecology of marine life. Equipped with all sorts of hydrophones, parabolic microphones, and recording devices, she amplifies her sensing abilities and tries to detect underwater acoustic forms of expression on the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway. What can the sounds and infrasounds of marine life tell us about environmental health, natural rhythms, and our future on planet Earth that observable phenomena cannot? How does listening – to both that which is audible and that which sounds beyond the human sensorial range – possibly change our relationship with other sounding beings and so-called silent subjects?
In turn, Mikhail Karikis’ Children of Unquiet (2013-14) explores the potentialities opened up by sound-making referred to by LaBelle, by orchestrating a children’s aural and physical take-over of a deserted former workers’ village situated in the Devil’s Valley in Tuscany. As the children laugh, play, and read out loud amid their surroundings, their sonic intervention is both an individual and communal form of expression that challenges a failed narrative of industrial modernism and evokes other possible, and perhaps more emancipatory futures.
Because sound is a fluid material and unfolds in the space between entities across various scales, reverberation links them into an entangled and situated existence. Reverberation points to the liveliness and eventness of all beings; to a corporeality that exceeds the sounding body, and persists across time and space. This emphasises the notion that earthly life is a matter of dynamic processes of co-becoming and material interchange. As we intently and unintentionally vibrate with and through other beings, our collective reverberation sonically and symbolically confounds the traditional Western subject-object relation by alerting us to the ways in which we are simultaneously agent and acted upon. Reverberation reveals the desired and the troublesome, the directed and the diffused, and the unexpected and unknown ways in which everything is spatiotemporally and intimately bound. Reverberation is therefore not only a physical phenomenon that describes the persistent quality of sound in space, but also a valuable conceptual tool for thinking about the long-lasting impact of activated materialities.
Artist and self-proclaimed ‘incarnated agent of healing’ Tabita Rezaire has poetically affirmed that “sound is the creative force behind our manifested reality. Thus from the cosmic primal sound, all material form – as in matter – was birthed and still keeps birthing. Everything has a vibratory frequency, even if inaudible (…) The human pursuit is then to find that sound and resound in that sound, so as to vibrate in unison with the vibratory frequency of infinity.” Rezaire wrote these words in the context of the primarily human endeavour of decolonial healing, but they could just as well apply to all animate and inanimate beings. Vibration, then, is a process of becoming in the biological, social, and cultural sense.
In this issue of Kunstlicht, we invite you to think with us about reverberation in an expanded manner in order to explore the relationality of sound and sonic practices, especially (but certainly not limited to) those within the contemporary visual arts. We find ourselves questioning: what does it mean to state that ecologies are inherently reverberant things? And that reverberant bodies are affective bodies? How can we conceive of reverberation as a creative and transformative force? What are the possible ethical, political, aesthetic, and epistemological implications of being more attentive to the ways in which bodies extend themselves towards each other and become entangled through their vibrational energy? And how could being more receptive to other bodies’ reverberance help us address shared longings, navigate the ecological crisis, and form new “vibratory models of alliance” against social injustice?
We invite scholars, artists, listeners, musicians, sound-makers, and practitioners from various disciplinary backgrounds and from all stages in their academic, creative or professional practice to think with us about these questions and submit a proposal for essays, interviews, poems and other poetic and experimental texts, prose, scores, playlists, and visual or aural works that vibe with the theme of reverberant ecologies.
Proposals (200-300 words) with attached résumés and related image material can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by no later than August 31, 2023. Selected contributors will be notified shortly thereafter and invited to write a 2,500/3,000-word essay (excluding (foot)notes), or to submit an artistic contribution.
Please note: Contributors who publish in Kunstlicht will receive three complimentary copies. Kunstlicht is a volunteer-run academic journal and is unable to provide an author’s honorarium. Three years following publication, essay contributions will be uploaded to the freely accessible online archive.
Manuela Zammit is a contemporary art historian, editor, and critic based between The Netherlands and Malta. She has recently graduated with a Research Master in Critical Studies in Art & Culture from Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Her thesis titled “Posthuman Corporealities: Encounters Within and Without the Self” focuses on contemporary artistic engagements with feminist (re)theorisations of the body and subjectivity. While her research interests are broad and ever-changing, her ongoing inquiry is centred around expanded notions of embodiment and relationality in contemporary art practices, particularly within the contexts of ecology and new media. She previously completed a MFA in Contemporary Curating at Manchester Metropolitan University and is a regular contributor to the Dutch contemporary art magazine Metropolis M. She is also part of Kunstlicht’s editorial board.
In your hands, is one of Lucille Lefrang’s nosetalgic memories, collected and produced as part of her article for the Kunstlicht journal titled, A Year of Fear of Losing You. We invite you to hold the card to your nose, breathe deeply, and join our space of collective nosetalgia.
The Nosetalgia issue of Kunstlicht explores the theme of nostalgic feelings and olfaction (AKA our sense of smell). Often associated with an aesthetic – Instagram filters and vintage caricatures – can we take a more sensory approach to nostalgic perception? Artists, perfumers, and scholars contribute their thoughts, anecdotes and analyses of how smell plays an integral role to our nostalgic perceptions. The issue was guest edited by Sofia Collette Ehrich and Amarens Eggeraat.
To order the Nosetalgia issue of Kunstlicht click here.
The smell was created by Lucille Lefrang and the smell cards were printed by Olfapac. The card was financed by Kunstlicht. The creative direction of this card was led by Sofia Collette Ehrich.
The design of the card was created by Lisa Marie Sneijder.
Kunstlicht is an academic journal for art, visual culture, and architecture. Three issues are published each year; two single issues and one double issue, each focusing on one specific theme. The journal was founded in 1980.
The editorial board consists of students and alumni of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam with diverse research interests. The journal has been completely volunteer-run from top to bottom since its beginning. The journal is affiliated with the Arts and Culture department at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, but operates as an autonomous foundation. Kunstlicht is designed by Corine van der Wal.
This smell card was originally made for the Kunstlicht journal’s Nosetalgia issue printed in May 2023. The smell card is paired with one of the issue’s article submissions titled A Year of Fear of Losing You written by perfumer Lucille Lefrang.
It is time to celebrate! Twice even. Come join us at our launch event on March 31, 2023 from 19:00 to celebrate the publication of our latest two issues Labour of Love and Failing on Timeat Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam.
We will host inspiring talks and panels by authors from both issues. See the programme below:
Introduction by editor-in-chief Lisa Marie Sneijder
Labour of Love
Presentation by line kramer on her article ‘Love Letters to a Room’
Failing on Time
Introduction Failing on Time by Dunja Nešovic
Presentation by Daphne de Sonneville on her article ‘Riotous Repetition: Mutant Flowers, Baroque Architecture and Slapstick Comedy’
Discussion with Monika Dybalska and Benedikt Rudischhauser
With the issue Labour of Love, we wanted to ask whether there is such a thing as a labour of love. As young people entering the workforce, we accept jobs that forego adequate monetary compensation for the work we do, only to be ‘paid’ in exposure, experience, or emotional fulfilment. At Kunstlicht, we have heard ourselves explain our efforts to participate in the art world despite this as ‘a labour of love’. Yet, while putting this issue together, it became obvious that this explanation fell short of the phrase.
In the issue Failing on Time we explore the dynamic between time and failure, and ways in which this conjunction informs our thoughts and feelings regarding agency, inevitability, urgency and possibility. As guest editor Dunja Nešović elaborates, by examining recursive failures, consequences of wrong timing, and failures produced in, with or out of time, the selected works in this issue identify the pathways they open for resistance, profit-making, expansion and artistic production.
We hope to see you on the 31st of March!
Credits for the cover image:
Left – Epna promotional material:Leave New York, 1975, 28 x 42 cm, E05.01, The Archives: Peter van Beveren Library, The Hague.
Right – RISOWISO adaptation of Daphne de Sonneville, Portrait of a Woman (c. 1650) by Frans Hals (top right), A poster-poem (1965-66) by Aram Saroyan (bottom right), Pompom Dahlia ‘Franz Kafka’ (left), 2023, watercolour rendering, 210 × 297 mm.