The Listening Academy (Singapore): Unclotting Sensing; Embodying Sedimented Histories of Death


Unclotting Sensing; Embodying Sedimented Histories of Death (180 minutes)

“Unclotting Sensing; Embodying Sedimented Histories of Death” is a series of research workshops created for anthropologist and artist Jill J. Tan’s doctoral dissertation project and ARTEFACT residency at Dance Nucleus, in collaboration with artist and cultural worker Alecia Neo.

In reckoning with silences which reflect the historical sedimentation of death, this project moves towards ethics of collaboratively making space for the unsayable wounding of historical and present violence, and reverberations of death. How do we tend to, care for, sit with the unheard, unseen and as-yet unclotted harms? What modes of listening bring us closer to attuning to the reverberations of silence?

During  this workshop reflecting on structural and historical violence in Singapore, you will be invited to think about death through the lenses of jagged and unsettled colonial legacies; environmental destruction; displacement of persons and nature; systemic violence; historical woundings; and social death in the Singaporean context. You are invited to do some archival research prior to attending this workshop as you will be asked to work with a material prompt.

There will be two parts of this workshop: an archive exercise, and a ritual exercise. Please wear clothes you are comfortable moving around in.

One week before the workshop, we invite you to reflect on this question: “How do you experience death, loss, and displacement in [the area you wish to explore in this workshop]?” On the day of the workshop, you will need to bring: 1)  A photograph (e.g. landscape or infrastructural depiction), a copy of a document, or an image and 2) Objects which reflect an area of the workshop focus which speaks to you.

*This project was first developed under an ARTEFACT residency at Dance Nucleus in 2022.

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Jill J. Tan

Jill J. Tan is a writer, artist, and researcher committed to collaborative practice and multimodal exploration through games, performance, and poetics. As a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Yale University, she studies death and dying in Singapore, working with funeral professions and public-facing death literacy efforts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Guernica, City and Society Journal, The Journal of Public Pedagogies, Mynah, Brack; and the edited volumes Resistant Hybridities: Tibetan Narratives in Exile (Lexington) and Death and the Afterlife: Multidisciplinary Perspectives from Asia (Routledge). She was a 2022 resident at Dance Nucleus, and co-created a featured program for The Studios 2022 at The Esplanade. Tan’s multimedia hybrid poetics project “Notes on the bicentennial of a f/l/ound/er/ing (2019)” was awarded the 2022 Theron Rockwell Field Prize at Yale.

Alecia Neo

Alecia Neo is an artist and cultural worker. Her collaborative practice unfolds primarily through installations, lens-based media and participatory workshops that examine modes of radical hospitality and care. Her recent projects include Scores for Caregiving (2023), a participatory installation commissioned by ArtScience Museum, Power to the People (2022), a site-specific art installation presented at Karachi Biennial 2022 and ramah-tamah (2020), a dance film commissioned by the Asian Civilisations Museum. She is currently working on Care Index, an ongoing research focused on the indexing and transmission of embodied gestures and movements which emerge from lived experiences of care labour. Care Index has been recently presented at The Esplanade: Theatres by the Bay, The Listening Biennial, Assembly for Permacircular Museums (ZKM Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe), New Season of Care (Asia-Art-Activism) and Presence of Mind (Gallery Lane Cove, NSW, Australia).

She is the co-founder of Brack, an art collective and platform for socially engaged art and Ubah Rumah Residency on Nikoi Island, which focuses on ecological practices. Active since 2014, her ongoing collaborations with disabled artists currently manifests as an arts platform, Unseen Art Initiatives. She is currently an associate artist with Dance Nucleus.

The Listening Academy

9 Aug – 12 Aug 2023, Singapore

Dance Nucleus and other locations

Studio Address: Dance Nucleus, Goodman Arts Centre

90 Goodman Rd, Block M #02-53, Singapore 439053 (No lift access)

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 issues and practices. This includes bringing together individual approaches and work, and creating opportunities for material exploration and building new collaborations.

For the Listening Academy’s 2023 iteration in Singapore, we explore losses: known, unknown, anticipated and historically sedimented, and the seen and unseen. Through a series of workshops, we attend to concepts such as the acousmatic (Chong Li-Chuan), aphantasia (Jevon Chandra), and the unsayable (Jill J. Tan and Alecia Neo),  through methods which include sound walks, embodied rituals, and contemplative inquiry (Kristina Mah). Across programs, we seek to move beyond normative hearing, seeing, and sensing. We ask: What is knowing, feeling, making, hearing in process? How do we come to knowledge through/ of silence? How do we engage in processes of attuning to the environment, unclotting coagulated wounds, and healing without teleological expectations?

Participants may propose workshops, talks and relevant activities during the course of The Listening Academy.