Uncurating Sound: Knowledge with Voice and Hands

Uncurating Sound: Knowledge with Voice and Hands



Salomé Voegelin

Published by Bloomsbury Academic

Uncurating Sound performs, across five chapters, a deliberation between art, politics, knowledge and normativity. It foregrounds the perfidy of norms and engages in the curatorial as a colonial knowledge project, whose economy of exploitation draws a straight line from Enlightenment's desire for objectivity, through sugar, cotton and tobacco, via lives lost and money made to the violence of contemporary art.

It takes from curation the notion of care and thinks it through purposeful inefficiency as resistance: going sideways and another way. Thus it moves curation through the double negative of not not to “uncuration”: untethering knowledge from the expectations of reference and a canonical frame, and reconsidering art as political not in its message or aim, but by the way it confronts the institution.

Looking at Kara Walker's work, the book invites the performance of the curatorial via indivisible connections and processes. Reading Kathy Acker and Adrian Piper it speculates on how the body brings us to knowledge beyond the ordinary. Playing Kate Carr and Ellen Fullman it re-examines Modernism's colonial ideology, and materialises the vibrational presence of a plural sense. Listening to Marguerite Humeau and Manon de Boer it avoids theory but agitates a direct knowing from voice and hands, and feet and ears that disorder hegemonic knowledge strands in favour of local, tacit, feminist and contingent knowledges that demand like Zanele Muholi's photographs, an ethical engagement with the work/world.

Table of Contents

List of figures
Prologue: Sounding Gaps in Pavements
Introduction: Taking a breath together
Breath 1 Curating politics in the gallery space
Breath 2 The possibility of resistance and the performance of alternatives
Performance score listen across to uncurate knowledge
Breath 3 With voice and hands
sound it IIIIIII
Breath 4 Postnormal
Performing Walls IX
List of Works


"Salomé Voegelin's oeuvre epitomizes sonic dynamism. Her latest work is no different. In Uncurating Sound, Voegelin invites us to listen along as she troubles and blurs static lines between knowledge and curation, writers and bodies, sound and the book, reading and performing. As she converses with works by such figures as Kara Walker, Kathy Acker, Adrian Piper, Kate Carr, Ellen Fullman and Manon de Boer, Voegelin reminds us vitally – especially as we continue to emerge from pandemic isolation and sustained distancing – that we are embodied. And questions like, Who is the “I” and the ear that writes? and For whom do we write and listen? are vital to our collective flourishing. Compelling in its speculation and expansive in its sonic wanderings, Uncurating Sound will interrupt our deep assumptions about sound and knowledge as it calls for us, in all our full embodiment, to listen. Where is your body tuned now?"

Nicole Furlonge, Professor and Director of the Klingenstein Center, Columbia University, USA


"With detours and fuzzy paths, inhalations and exhalations, rivers and their volumes, Uncurating Sound proposes the decolonial and transversal politics of sound is a matter not only for art institutions and their publics but also for a broader untethering from extractive histories and ways of knowing."

Sasha Engelmann, Senior Lecturer in GeoHumanities, Royal Holloway University of London, UK


"Salomé Voegelin's sensitive handling of sound topics as a post-colonial un-discipline is both observational and treatise-ish, caring and critical, and affirms the complex entanglement of curation, the cannon, the archive, and the body, and proposes a new traversing identity of sound studies. A Tour de Force."

Miya Masaoka, composer, artist and Associate Professor of Visual Art (Sound Art) and Director, Sound Art Program MFA, Columbia University, USA

Launch Events

Berlin: 20 September 2023 at Errant Sound. An evening celebrating the publication launch with Salomé Voegelin and special guests Andrea Götzke, Holger Schulze and Kathy-Ann Tan.

London: 14 March 2023 at London College of Communication. An evening celebrating the publication launch with Salomé Voegelin and special guests Lina Džuverović, Richard Hylton and Cécile Malaspina.

Book cover title 'Uncurating sound, knowledge with voice and hands' by author Salomé Voegelin. The background image is a black and white wood cut of a sea and landscape

ISBN: 9781501345425

Available to buy from Bloomsbury

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