Polyphonic worlds: justice as medium

Café Univers

A temporary recording studio at Contour Biennale 8’s Opening Weekend Public Programme / DAI Roaming Assembly #12, Café Univers draws on conversations, music and live internet/FM radio feeds from across the globe to dialogue freely around sound, place and histories of struggle. The episodes navigate mainstream radio stations via the Radio Garden website as well as music chosen by presenters. The project melds sonic exploration of south/south solidarity and the collapsing of physical/digital spaces vis a vis the chaotic dynamics of listening to the radio while rotating the globe.

Café Univers is a project conducted by Syma Tariq and Francesca Savoldi and supported by RadioApartment22, the online radio platform of Apartment22, founded by Abdellah Karoum in Rabat, Morocco.

Episodes 1, 2 & 3: Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have been making films together for three decades on the recurrent subject of Tibet, in which they are intimately involved.They chat with us about the music of their film 'Drapchi Elegy' and the songs performed and recorded by a group of nuns imprisoned for protesting peacefully. We chat as well about the role of radio in the Tibetan diaspora, music of exile and the meaning of its contemporary influences.

Episodes 4 & 5: Karrabing Film Collective are from the Belyuen community on the Cox Peninsula across Darwin Harbour, Australia. They took up filmmaking after being made homeless, and use media as a means to express protection for their ancestors, sacred sites and mother country. The films represent their lives, create bonds with their land, and intervene in global images of indigeneity. Gavin Bianamu, Rex Edmunds and Elizabeth A. Povinelli speak to us about filming, family, Australian radio music and screwing copyright.

Episodes 6 & 7: Denise Ferreira da Silva offered at Contour Biennale 8’s Public Programme notes on a theory of transformative justice, assessing contemporary (total, institutional, symbolic) violence and raciality while interrogating a value-based proposal for practical decolonisation (ie, construing and then demanding the wealth back). She speaks to Café Univers about Brazilian radio novelas, cultural value extraction and hip hop, among other personal subjects.

Episode 8: Pedro Neves Marques is (together with Mariana Silva) behind inhabitants - an online channel for exploratory video and reporting. He comments on one of the works presented at Contour Biennale 8, ‘Hobby Lobby vs. The Allegory of Justice’, which revolves around an interesting case from 2014 in the US, where corporations claimed for the first time their religious rights to suppress providing health care and contraceptives to employees. Travelling together though Radio Garden we try to find evidence of the Trump era on US airwaves.

Episode 9: A chat with Mariana Silva, co-founder of inhabitants with Pedro Neves Marque. She is a Portuguese artist based in New York. As well as navigating Radio Garden with us through night radio broadcasts and transmissions from the Azorean archipelago, she connects some of the works produced for Contour Biennale 8 with her reflections on the US Women’s March on Washington, which took place on March 8 2017.

Episode 10: Pedro Gómez-Egaña drops by to tell us about the piece he produced for Contour Biennale 8 and related research that explores the complex tradition of riddles in polyphonic manuscripts of the Flemish region, and the enigmatic silence they contain. Continuing with the task of listening, we tune into the airwaves of his homeland, Bucaramanga (Colombia). Pedro is an artist whose recent works gravitate around questions of temporality in the intersection between technology and culture.

Episode 11: A recording of the last eight minutes of Rana Hamadeh's soundplay, "Can You Make a Pet of Him Like a Bird or Put Him on a Leash For Your Girls?" (40"). Structured through the oratorical tradition of the Shiite ceremony of Ashoura, it takes its political, military and legal expressions with the Lebanese/Syrian contexts as its field for commentary and research. Centred around the murder of Hussain, the Prophet's grandson, it is a terrible and beautiful mixture of vocal trauma and dark trance. Headphones advised.


19-05-2017 — 12:05

Agence: Assemblée (Mondes polyphoniques)

May 20 and May 21, 15:00–17:00

Agency will host two gatherings to respond to readings of legal case questions.

Venue: Alderman’s House, Steenweg 1, Mechelen.

RSVP required due to limited seating via contour@nona.be.

Art practices often involve non-humans (animals, birds, plants, rocks, etc…) and other-than-humans (death, spirits, extra and intra terrestrials, etc…). Yet, intellectual property is only reserved for humans. Although the copyright law definition of “authors” does not explicitly refer to humans, the jurisprudence doesn't consider non-humans and other-than-humans as possible “causes of art works”. What if non-humans and other-than-humans become mutually included within art practices? For Assembly (Polyphonic Worlds) Agency will depart from this speculation by invoking two cases:

On Saturday, May 20, Agency invokes Thing 001652 (Monkey's Selfies), which concerns a controversy between the macaque Naruto represented by the animal rights organization PETA and the wildlife photographer David Slater around a series of photos made by Naruto and published inside a book of David Slater. Respondents: Sari Depreeuw (intellectual property law), Steven Humblet (art history), Jane Reniers (animal rights), Anna Vanhellemont (animal law), Jan Verpooten (ethology)

On Sunday, May 21, Agency invokes Thing 001621 (Dead Son Drawn by Psychic Artist), a conflict between the psychic artist Frank Leah and A.P. about a journal reproduction of a picture of a drawing of the spirit of the son of A.P. by Frank Leah. Respondents: Mieke Abel (clairvoyance), Julien Cabay (intellectual property law), Steve Michiels (cartoonist), Florentine Peeters (art), Katarzyna Ruchel-Stockmans (art history), Christian Vandekerkhove (theosophy), Jana Willems (psychic art)

During each gathering, Agency invites a group of concerned practitioners to respond to the court cases. Rather than re-enacting the trial, these assemblies invoke moments of hesitation during the case hearing.

The Assemblies take place between 15h and 17h on May 20 and 21 in English language.

Check the event on Facebook.

26-04-2017 — 05:04


Op woensdag 26 april organiseert Contour Biennale 8 een nocturne. Alle locaties zijn dan geopend van 17 tot 21 uur: een ideaal moment om de biënnale te bezoeken naast de gangbare openingsuren. Je kan ook tijdens deze avond een gids reserveren via contour@nona.be

20-03-2017 — 04:03

Café Univers

Café Univers is a nomadic radio project by Syma Tariq and Francesca Savoldi hosted during the opening weekend of Contour Biennale 8.

The episodes navigate mainstream radio stations via the Radio Garden, with biennale artists, guests and passersby warmly invited to contribute. The project melds sonic exploration of south/south solidarity and the collapsing of physical/digital spaces via the changing format of radio. It hopes to address questions such as: What is the relationship between music and social justice? In what ways does music (re)territorialise and bind the diaspora? Whose sound is it anyway?

The project is supported by Radio Apartment 22 (R22), founded by Abdellah Karroum in Rabat. Edited episodes of the audio recorded will be published on R22 and the Contour Biennale 8 website.

20-03-2017 — 03:03


Op zondag 19 maart organiseerden Contour Biennale 8 en OP.RECHT.MECHELEN. de Contour Biennale 8 lerarendag in samenwerking met Klasse. De educatieve werking van de biënnale werd er voorgesteld. De educatie map is vanaf nu beschikbaar op onze website.

13-03-2017 — 07:03

The Stealing C*nt$ and Toxic Sovereignty

Le Karrabing Film Collective (Gavin Bianamu, Rex Edmunds, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Ben Williams) présente le film The Stealing C*nt$ and Toxic Sovereignty qui sera projeté à la Fondation Boghossian dans le cadre de leur participation à la Biennale Contour 8. La projection sera suivie d’une conversation modérée par Natasha Ginwala.

11-03-2017 — 07:03

Public Programme



The Moon Will Teach You

Some of the most prominent music produced in Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries was linked to the spread of polyphonic choral compositions. This music was usually interpreted from handwritten parts in the form of choir books with music and lyrics laid out for individual voices (typically soprano and tenor on the left-hand pages, and alto and bass on the right-hand pages). While at this time the printing press [...]



Other began as an ongoing project initiated for the exhibition 10 x 10 (2014), which was presented at Haus Esters in Krefeld, a modernist villa designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe for the silk manufacturer Josef Esters. In an exploration of how institutional structures are imposed on individuals, the first textile series combines features of automated mechanical manufacturing with conceptual and technological aspects of how large datasets are collected and processed. [...]


Video Temporality and Hindsight Evidence

Since 1991, when Rodney King’s beating was captured on video by a civilian named George Holliday, the medium’s use as legal evidence has increased immensely. Understanding the functions and consequences of this shift demands a deep consideration of video’s relationship to temporality and memory. For years, artists and media theorists have been pursuing this question. […]


L for Lai Teck

A fleet of illegible and nameless specters haunts the political landscapes of early and mid-twentieth-century Southeast Asia. British Special Branch reports from this period tended to present its Communist enemies as faceless statistical digits, revealing few personal details about them. The abstraction of these reports is further exacerbated by the fact that the most frequent […]


Diaoptasia – Our Future Will Be

Fractures can sometimes be identified As light falls on its aching path How do you see the cracks that appear? Would it be rough and irregular? Maybe shell like, smooth and curved? Or maybe jagged and sharp edged like broken metal Forming elongated splinters Breaking like clay or chalk? Our future is to live […]


I Will Burn Myself Again and Again: Notes on the Self-Immolations in Tibet

I am walking thus on the path of light, to become the living proof of truth I am sacrificing myself thus on the face of actuality All my brothers and sisters, young and old, living in misery and sorrow All people throughout the world who love freedom and peace And to you, tyrants of violence, […]


Visual Script: Vietnam the Movie

—Did you see her? —The lobby was full of people. Police, security, barriers. I realized how ridiculous the situation was. I pictured myself jumping on an Indo-Chinese woman, yelling: “Mama!” So I thought a miracle had to happen. I hoped one of the women would shout: “Etienne, my son!” I waited. A long time.[…]


A Tragedy in Two Acts

This is a slightly adapted version of a conversation that took place over e-mail in 2006 between art historian Els Roelandt and visual artist Ana Torfs, on the occasion of the first exhibition of Torfs’ installation Anatomy at daadgalerie in Berlin.


America, de Bry 1590-1634 By Louis Henderson

Whilst sitting in the rare book division of the New York Public Library in Manhattan, awaiting the arrival of an original 1724 edition of Le Code Noir, I picked up another book: America, de Bry 1590-1634. As I moved through the pages, looking at Theodor de Bry’s coloured engravings, I was witnessing documents from history that reported apparent truths about the colonisation of the Americas […]