Symposium and networking event in collaboration with The Listening Academy & Kingston University
Symposium Thursday 20 July 2023 10 am – 18.30 pm
Hosted by the Visual & Material Culture Research Centre, Kingston School of Art
Kingston University, Room 2007, John Galsworthy Building, Penrhyn Road Campus, Kingston Upon Thames,
Surrey, KT1 2EE
This is an in person free event, booking on eventbrite recommended
Co-convened by Lucia Farinati (Kingston School of Art) and Brandon LaBelle (The Listening Biennial)
This symposium explores the cross-cutting role of listening in art, activism and social care and its potential to
facilitate change in times of crisis. Understanding listening as a form of solidarity and a labour of care, the
symposium explores the cross-pollination of political and creative practices that intersect with socially
engaged art, transitional justice, healthcare research and cultural activism. The significance of this study day
consists in an inter-disciplinary methodology and perspective on listening which will connect research on this
subject from political theory and clinical psychology to performance, visual art and sonic studies.
Listening has long been considered as a cultural, political and clinical activity that can be practised, learned and
cultivated. In socially engaged art the focus on dialogue and audience participation has been a listening-
centered practice giving voice to marginalised subjects. In 1970s practices of feminist consciousness raising,
new protocols for group listening and speaking were recognised as a powerful political action and a vital form
of political therapy. In all forms of talking therapy listening has been recognised as the core skill of professional
training. But in moments of crisis (financial, ecological, Brexit, Covid, Ukraine…) what is the role of listening and
why might listening matter? What happens when verbal communication or dialogue, understanding and
reciprocity, compassion and empathy are under threat due to isolation, lack of care and hope? This symposium
aims to re-contextualise distinct traditions of listening in politics, social and creative practice and analyse when
and how their potential for social transformation is blocked at the point that a dramatic shift in perspective –
without losing the attention (the listening) – becomes necessary. The cross-pollination between art, activism
and social care can unlock the potential and renew the strength in each domain by asking:
• Can art create a safe space for listening to narratives of trauma and loss?
• Can listening within activist movements constitute, in and of itself, an act of healing
• Can creative methods of listening support inclusive health and new forms of social and health care?
In looking at creative practices of listening in art and activism and their reciprocal influence the symposium will
unpack the potential of listening towards new dimensions of social justice, care and healing. Listening can be
envisaged as a bridge, or a journey that we can’t take alone (Bickford, 1996), a creative, regenerative experience
of reconnecting with others after times of self-isolation.
10.00 – 10.15 Lucia Farinati (Kingston University)- Welcome and Introduction
10.15 – 11.15 Luis Sotelo Castro (Concordia University, Montreal) Keynote speaker
11.15 – 11.30 Respondent Leah Bassel (Coventry University)
11.30 – 11.50 Discussion
10 mins break
12.00 -12.20 Brandon LaBelle (The Listening Biennial)
12.20 – 12.30 Q&A
12.30 -14.00 Lunch break
14.00 – 15.30 Acoustic Justice, Panel chaired by Brandon LaBelle, Johanna Motzkau (The Open University),
John Levack Drever (Goldsmiths University)
15.30 – 15.45 break
15.45 -17.45 Listening as Care – Panel chaired by Lucia Farinati with Laura E. Fisher (CEO of Traumascapes),
Melania Calestani (Kingston University), Maddalena Fragnito (Coventry University)
17.45 – 18.15 Soundcamp (London)
18.15 – 18.30 closing remarks and thanks
Leah Bassel (pronouns: she/her) is Professor of Politics and International Studies at Coventry University,
UK. Her research interests include the political sociology of migration, intersectionality and citizenship.
Leah’s books include The Politics of Listening: Possibilities and Challenges for Democratic Life (Palgrave, 2017),
and Minority Women and Austerity: Survival and Resistance in France and Britain co-authored with Akwugo
Emejulu (Policy Press 2017).
Before pursuing an academic career, Leah was an emergency outreach worker in Paris where she provided
humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and created a circus camp project for refugee youth.
Brandon LaBelle (The Listening Biennial) is an artist, writer and theorist living in Berlin. His work focuses on
questions of agency, community, pirate culture, and poetics, which results in a range of collaborative and
extra-institutional initiatives, including: The Listening Biennial and Academy (2021-), Communities in
Movement (2019-), The Living School (with South London Gallery, 2014-16), Oficina de Autonomia (2017), The
Imaginary Republic (2014-19), Dirty Ear Forum (2013-), Surface Tension (2003-2008), and Beyond Music Sound
Festival (1998-2002). In 1995 he founded Errant Bodies Press, an independent publishing project supporting
work in sound art and studies, performance and poetics, artistic research and contemporary political thought.
His publications include: The Other Citizen (2020), Sonic Agency (2018), Lexicon of the Mouth (2014), Acoustic
Territories (2010, 2019), and Background Noise (2006, 2015). His latest book, Acoustic Justice (2021), argues
for an acoustic model by which to engage questions of social equality.
Melania Calestani is a medical anthropologist and a senior lecturer at Kingston University. She has mainly
carried out fieldwork in Andean Bolivia and in the UK. In Bolivia, she explored religious and medical pluralism
among Aymara people. In the UK, she carried out research on person-centred care in the NHS. Most recently,
she has conducted critical ethnographic research in hospitals, examining how practices of prayer can be
transgressive, affecting power relations and experiences of inclusion/exclusion. Her research interests also
include critical understandings of race and ethnicity, health inequalities and perspectives from critical medical
John L. Drever works across soundscape studies, experimental music and sound art, and has devised sound
and listening experiences in many different contexts and configurations. Commissions range from the Groupe
de Recherches Musicales (1999), Shiga National Museum, Japan (2012) to Trumpington Park Primary School,
Cambridge, with Ruralrecreation (2021-22). He co-edited Aural Diversity (Routledge 2022). He recently
presented Tuner of the World, for BBC Radio 3, a radio feature on R. Murray Schafer. Drever is Professor of
Acoustic Ecology and Sound Art at Goldsmiths, University of London where he co-leads the Unit for Sound
Practice Research (SPR), is Pathway Leader for MMus Sonic Arts and is Deputy Director of CHASE.
Lucia Farinati is an Associate lecturer in art history at Kingston University, an independent curator and the co-
organiser of The Listening Academy, London. Her research focuses on dialogic practices and methodologies
investigating the role of listening at the intersection of art and activism, the history of the artist interview, and
performativity in the context of sound and feminist archives. She has curated several sonic art projects under
the collective name Sound Threshold (www.soundthreshold.org). She was awarded a PhD from Kingston
University on the subject of Audio Arts magazine in July 2020. She is the co-author of The Force of Listening
(Errant Bodies Press, 2017) a dialogic montage of interviews with artists and activists which investigates the
role of listening in collective practice. She is currently working on Theorising the artist interview a new co-
edited volume for Routledge (forthcoming 2024). She is a regular contributor for Art Monthly.
Laura E. Fischer is the Founder & CEO of Traumascapes, a survivor-led organisation dedicated to addressing
trauma through art and science. Laura’s work explores the neurobiology of trauma, creative and embodied
approaches to healing, and the reclaiming and rewriting of the sociocultural narrative of trauma on survivors’
own terms. She is a Visiting Research Associate at King’s College London, Visiting Lecturer at UCL and Queen
Mary University of London, Ethics Committee Member for ATTUNE at the University of Oxford, and Editorial
Advisory Board Member of The Lancet Psychiatry. Laura has published, presented, and exhibited widely, and
her artwork is in the Central Saint Martins’ Museum Collection.
Maddalena Fragnito is an artist and feminist militant researcher who works at the intersection of care politics,
social movements and technology. She is pursuing a PhD at Coventry University’s Centre for Postdigital
Cultures and is associated with the research groups Pirate Care (2019) and Institute of Radical
Imagination (2020). Her recent co-edited books include Rebelling with Care (WeMake, 2019); Ecologie della
cura: Prospettive transfemministe (Orthotes, 2021); La pandemia, la classe, l’indifferenza strategica (Nero,
Johanna Motzkau is senior lecturer in Psychology (The Open University). She has a background in philosophy,
German critical-, feminist- and forensic psychology and trained as a psychological expert for witness credibility
assessment, often involving children. She is interested in listening as a liminal concept, an embodied/artistic
practice, a phenomenon troubling the modern territory of scientific psychology, a catalyst for art-based
methodological innovation (dark listening) to create emancipatory practices that can transform troubled
listening spots in child protection practices. Motzkau, J., & Lee, N. (2022). Cultures of listening: psychology,
resonance, justice. Review of General Psychology.
Luis C. Sotelo Castro is Associate Professor in the Department of Theatre at Concordia University, Montreal
(Quebec, Canada). In 2018 he founded at Concordia the Acts of Listening Lab, a hub for research-creation on
the transformative power of listening to painful narratives, with particular reference to testimonies by exiles
from sites of conflict. His latest publications explore listening in the context of post-conflict performances of
memory. For instance, see Sotelo-Castro, Luis Carlos & Shapiro-Phim, Toni. (2023) Listening, as common
ground: oral history performance for transitional justice, Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied
Theatre and Performance, 28:1, 1-18.
Soundcamp are an arts cooperative based at Stave Hill Ecological Park in South London. Our work appears as
broadcasts, workshops, publications, sound devices and events. As part of the Acoustic Commons network,
we coordinate the long-form radio broadcast Reveil (2014–), and a series of sound and ecology events
(soundcamps) on Dawn Chorus day each year. Recent projects include: Spree ~ Channelsea Radio Group – a
transmission project between rivers in London and Berlin (2023); l a g – Experiments with ecological radio –
with Kate Donovan for Sonic Acts (2022); Land to Return, Land to Care, with Museum of Odessa Modern Art
and artists affected by the invasion of Ukraine (2022); and As if radio.. (AIR): An experiment in ecological
activist radio at COP26 Glasgow (2021).
THE LISTENING ACADEMY is an independent research academy focusing on listening as a philosophical, artistic,
social and somatic issue. This entails a relation to sonic, performative and ecological practices, sound studies
research, and experimental pedagogy. The Academy offers a generative and nurturing framework for
researchers and practitioners to engage in collaborative exchange and the sharing of knowledge, as well as
workshopping new directions in sound studies and related practices. THE LISTENING ACADEMY is part of THE
LISTENING BIENNIAL, an international network and biennial exhibition platform.
Saturday 22 July 2023 – 12-6 pm
Stave Hill Ecological Park, London
Address: Behind Bacons College, off Timber Pond Road in Rotherhithe, London, SE16 6AX.
Meeting point: hut of the Ecological Centre
In person free event, booking on eventbrite recommended
Organised and facilitated by Lucia Farinati (The Listening Academy, London) in collaboration with the collective
This is an invitation open to anyone who would like to share their knowledge and practices in sound and listening
studies but also to experiment with new modalities of research and collaboration in contact with nature. Designed
as a field trip at the Stave Hill Ecological Park in South London, thissound picnic is an opportunity for exchange across
a broader public, inviting encounters and meeting points for those interested to find out more about The Listening
Academy, as well asto meet othersinvolved in sound work and listening studies. Throughout the day informalsharing
will be encouraged and facilitated through the formation of working groups. Please feel free to bring along any
materials you might like to share, from publications, sound scores, texts, sound equipment or simply any proposals
that are works in progress. Please also bring food and drink to share.
The meeting point is the SHED in the compound of Stave Hill Ecological Park, London SE16 6AX. The ecology park is
off Timber Pond Road and behind Bacon’s College. (Please search digital maps and / or see attached). Hard paths give
access to the site, but wheelchair users may need assistance on some stretches (such as the area approaching the
SHED). Three toilets are available, of which one is wheelchair accessible. Please contact us for more information.
The meeting point is at the hut of the Ecological Centre.