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What’s the situation?

Feminist Frequencies addresses the question of how socio-political differences and lived experiences of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity may be perceived to manifest in the making of sound arts and experimental musics with a specific focus upon works made by women. Drawing upon compositions, installations and artist-archives including works by Lina Džuverovic, Anne Hilde Neset, Cathy Lane, Emma Hedditch, Sonia Boyce, Kim Gordon and Jutta Koether, Feminist Frequencies considers the different ways in which the category of “woman” has been historically silenced, erased, ignored and disqualified from and misrepresented within dominant historical sound and music histories. What representations of “woman” might have materialised within this relational paradigm that “privileges the perspective of an archetypal Western, white, and male subject” as the universal subject of sound (Rodgers 2010b, v)? In particular noise and silence are re-visited as the assumed polar limits of sound arts and experimental musics combined with a reconsideration of the fundamental parameters of pitch, timbre and amplitude as sound’s dominant laws, norms and conventions. This growing analysis, based upon the ways in which these artists have in turn used and critiqued historically dominant representations through their aesthetic practices, explores ways in which these artists challenge, resist or transform sound art and experimental music practices.

Feminist Frequencies is situated within a field of queer-feminist-anti-racist sound studies connecting social and aesthetic processes in contemporary sound arts and experimental music practices within a discourse of feminist composition. It seeks to contribute to alternative sound and music socio-economies through the subtle calibration of compositional strategies – those that seek to displace dominant compositional processes intent upon regulating the noise of the social as a field of normalisation for the reproduction of the individual, self-sovereign and universally masculine subject of sound. Ultimately, Feminist Frequencies examines processes of feminist composition as social evenst.

 

In this complicated scene of academic/activist feminist politics we are faced with an impossible and crucial task of constructing a comparative notation of women’s, and of feminism’s, “minority.” The scale such a project demands will inevitably involve struggles to redefine the terms and frames of knowledge, expertise, and praxis. In the process, we must be committed to producing risky theories/fantasies-and failing.

Berlant, Lauren. 1994. “ ’68, or Something.” Critical Inquiry 21 (1): 124–55.

Feminist Frequencies is informed by critical feminism, critical race, post-colonial and queer theories combined with feminist epistemologies in sound studies and feminist and queer musicology.  It asks about how socio-political differences and lived experiences of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity may be perceived to manifest in the making of sound arts and experimental musics. I explore notions of paradox, performativity and hybridity as processes that destabilise and transgress assumed limits of sociopolitical auditory intelligibility.  These ideas seek to measure these limits so as to uncover processes that shape auditory perception and aesthetic practice.  I focus on dominant assumptions about gender, race and sound; what discourses and performances those assumptions have produced; how those discourses and performances have been used to destabilise and transform sound art and experimental music practices through the analysis of specific aesthetic works.

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