Listening Session: Seeing Through Flames: Hildegard’s Musical Garden

Seita, Sophie; Ergul, Seda and Yount, Reylon. 2023. Listening Session: Seeing Through Flames: Hildegard’s Musical Garden. Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham. [Other]

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Abstract or Description

This listening session will draw inspiration from the German saint and polymath Hildegard of Bingen, considering how we can remix her lessons in the present. Bingen was a nun, poet, composer, visionary, prolific letter writer, herbalist, and scholar who wrote books on botany, medicine, music, poetry, and theology. Much of her music takes an experimental approach: her melodies seem almost improvisatory; her texts don’t follow grammatical conventions, are almost stream-of consciousness, and unusually rich and sensuous in their imagery, inviting us into the fecundity and mysticism of the garden.

This session is facilitated by The Hildegard von Bingen Society for Gardening Companions, a queer-feminist collective of artists, musicians, academics, and writers, that revives a historical society believed to have been founded by Bingen in the 12th century. We will play some of Hildegard’s hymns (recorded) and work in the spirit of this proto-eco-feminist; and end with a live set by Mantawoman on the yangqin (Chinese hammered dulcimer), tuning into how we can rethink the past and re-activate historical material and instruments. Mantawoman is Reylon Yount’s alt pop alter ego. Genre-fluid by nature, Mantawoman’s nomadic practice carries the yangqin across a spectrum of sound worlds, including covers of familiar pop songs

Thematically, the session will float around themes of abundance, transformation, imagined and collective gardens, finding solace in uncertainty, and claiming the history we deserve.

This event is supported by Canada Council for the Arts and produced by Queer Art Projects.

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About the Seeing Through Flames: Of Dubbing 2023 Series

The study sessions are informal discussion groups. Seeing Through Flames is a series of auditory assemblages that turn listening into a collective channel of exchange. These sessions open out the ideas and themes of our research strand, Emergency & Emergence, and survey different possibilities of forming solidarity through sonic ecologies.

Knowing that historiography occasionally reduces history writing to social systems of power in the time and place of a particular experience and does not obey the facts, how can the narrative of the facts be opened up to speculation? If dub is understood as a way of producing a version in the existence, in the wake of, ”the original”, and the idea of history is not as static or settled, dubbing as an act becomes a work of witnessing and of filling in historical gaps with dub imaginary. The space of sound and acoustic experimentation responds to the in-between of what is confined to history, preserved and abandoned.

By lending an emphatic ear to relational tempos, acoustics, beats and frequencies of historical formations and sonic world-making, this season’s Seeing Through Flames: Of Dubbing brings together a pluriverse of interdependent speculations that confronts the production and writing of history to underscore a condition of possibility for solidarity, beyond ‘the event’ in history, beyond cultural specificity and its locality.

Sophie Seita is a London-based artist who uses language as a material within and across performance, books, videos, sound, textiles, and installation. Her work has been commissioned, supported, performed, and published internationally, most recently, by the Roberts Institute of Art; the Hunterian Museum; Café Oto; Fonds Daku (Performing Arts Fund); Creative Scotland; Ma Bibliothèque; Queer Art Projects; Canada Council for the Arts; British Council; UP Projects; Kunsthalle Darmstadt (Germany); JNU (New Delhi); the 87 Press; Stanford University Press; and others.

Reylon aka Mantawoman (Manta/Rey) is a genre-fluid yangqin player and singer-songwriter from San Francisco. They are the first yangqin player in history to feature on a GRAMMY-winning album (Sing Me Home, 2016, alongside Yo-Yo Ma and Rhiannon Giddens). They have toured internationally with the Silkroad Ensemble, playing venues like TED, Lincoln Center, and Tanglewood. A 2016 Harvard College graduate and 2017 Marshall Scholar, Reylon makes music to explore and enact the plurality of identity, drawing influence from Daoist philosophies of nature. Reylon co-directs Tangram, a London-based artist collective, who are Associate Artists at LSO St Luke’s from 2022-25.

Seda Ergul is an artist, curator and producer based in London. She is a founding member of Istanbul Queer Art Collective since 2012. Her art ranges from performance to video and sound art, subjects on which she has also published and lectured on. She is also a creative producer and curator at Queer Art Projects a company that organises art projects like exhibitions, performances, screenings, talks and workshops, commissioning new work from queer artists on cutting edge contemporary issues.

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Art > Centre for Art and Ecology


14 March 2023

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Date Deposited:

26 Mar 2024 11:19

Last Modified:

20 Jun 2024 14:50


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