The Liquid Club

Liquid Club #17: Daniel Steegmann Mangrané

Join artist Daniel Steegmann Mangrané as we explore his artistic practice, his interest in music and the sounds of the Brazilian rainforest.

Liquid Club #16: Xaviera Simmons

In this one-off conversation artist Xaviera simmons was joined by LB21 Curator Manuela Moscoso, Sally Tallant, the previous Director of Liverpool Biennial who currently is Executive Director at Queens Museum New York and Lesley Lokko, writer and architect, running the African Futures Institute (AFI), an architectural school she founded in Accra, Ghana.

The conversation explored the complex relationship between labour in the arts, institutional buildings and knowledge.

Liquid Club #15: Ayesha Hameed

In this one-off event we joined Ayesha Hameed in conversation with MIT Professor of Anthropology, Stefan Helmreich, and Liverpool Biennial Curator, Manuela Moscoso, for an in-depth look at her research-based practice that explores contemporary borders, migration and critical race theory.

Ayesha and Stefan discuss Hameed's influences in media and sound alongside her newly commissioned audio-visual installation, I sing of the sea, I am mermaid of the trees (2021), that charts the placement of the first undersea telegraphic cable between India and Britain in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Liquid Club #14: Larry Achiampong’s videogame_mixtape_

We joined artist Larry Achiampong live and in conversation with Wumi Olaosebikan for a one-off listening party of the next videogame_mixtape_. The videogame_mixtape_ is an ongoing audio-based, research-driven project by artist Larry Achiampong. Created with the purpose of exploring the heritage and evolution of music and audio in gaming, this endeavour opens up Achiampong’s interest in this cultural phenomenon through gestures of play and sharing.

Achiampong says of the work “I’m... approaching this research in a way that doesn’t require anyone to have knowledge on the history of gaming – the mixes will be designed for people to enjoy as if they were listening to any other mixtape. With that in mind there will be a range of vibes to explore – from the cinematic, to popular cuts and hidden gems to the downright quirky.

Liquid Club #13: SERAFINE1369

For the third online Liquid Club SERAFINE1369 presented a unique audio performance: The Sound of An Uncertain “Yes” (something flat, something cosmic, something endless) with sound design from Josh Anio Grigg.

A somatic visioning of body as a portal, a medium, an interface, a doorway to another place, The Sound of An Uncertain “Yes”, starts from the functions of the body - specifically the senses - and unfolds as a study of the body’s cycles and systems, out of wonder and despair, as well as a way of tracking the collective unconscious, the wider cultural and societal structures and discourses, and the cosmos. A reading as an invitation to movement and listening, and listening as movement is something that needn’t necessarily go anywhere. Here, what is vague isn't in opposition to clarity, the mundane is revelatory and sensory information and psychic potential are guides.

Liquid Club #12: David Zink Yi

The second online Liquid Club joined David Zink Yi on a journey through his multi-disciplinary practice, exploring the qualities of Afro-Cuban musical tradition and the principle of polyrhythms - the effect produced when two or more simultaneous rhythms are played together, reflecting multiple dynamic constructions of identity that counter binary positions. Together, we looked at Zink Yi’s past, present and future projects spanning sound and performance, and investigated different forms of knowing the world, celebrating the experiential, expressive, multisensory, temporal, affective and somatic.

Featuring special guest author, art historian and documentary filmmaker, Ben Lewis, Liquid Club #12 aimed to deepen our understanding of the power of performance, and the role of ritual and community in the development of a musical practice.

Liquid Club #11: Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd

Beginning the online Liquid Club series, we invited collective Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd to explore Colombian pico culture as a continuation of their work investigating the remnants of subcultures and their individual research practices into sound.

Taking the lead from their forthcoming new film work Grito – Las Brisas de Febrero (2021), being premiered during the Liverpool Biennial in 2021, Invernomuto & Jim C. Nedd presented a dynamic hour of listening, discussion and contemplation. Featuring pre-recorded interviews captured during the production of the new video installation alongside music, field recordings and conversation, they explored Colombian pico culture – where customised sound systems or ‘picos’ go head-to-head playing Afro-Colombian records, animating the street parties of the country’s Atlantic Coast.

The Liquid Club #10: Anthropophagic Subjectivity by Suely Rolnik

For our November session, we read Anthropophagic Subjectivity by the Brazilian psychoanalyst and writer Suely Rolnik. Meaning to eat human flesh – a ritual practiced by Brazil’s indigenous Tupi population – the term 'anthropophagy' took on a different meaning in the 1930s with the rise of the anthropophagous movement. Rather than taking on a literal meaning, it highlighted Brazil’s history of cannibalising other cultures. The movement argued that the ability to incorporate and re-appropriate other cultures is Brazil’s greatest strength and has been a way for the country to assert its independence over European colonial culture.

In discussing how the movement has brought about a particular mode of cultural production in Brazil, Rolnik’s essay points out the subjectivity of any Brazilian who is created as the result of infinite ‘miscegenation’ – the mixing of those seen to be of different racial backgrounds. She argues that the anthropophagous movement makes this position explicit, giving it retrospective visibility but, above all, the dignity to affirm it in the present.

In a world where national, cultural, ethnic, religious, social and sexual territories are becoming increasingly complex, can anthropophagic subjectivity be a strategy for rearticulating our complex modes of existence? How can we explore this disorientation? How can we acquire some meaning in a world where identity has been mixed up in multifarious ways to a point that irreversibly denaturalises the conventional boundaries and territories of subjectivity?

KEY TEXT

Suely Rolnik, Anthropophagic Subjectivity, 1998
Download text

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suely Rolnik is a psychoanalyst, cultural critic, curator and professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, where in 1982 she founded the Subjectivity Studies Centre in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program. Since 2008, she has been guest professor of the Programa de Estudios Independientes, MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). Her research focus is on the politics of subjectivation and creation in different contexts, approached from a trans-disciplinary theoretical perspective. Her publications include Molecular Revolution in Brazil (1986) co-authored with Félix Guattari.

ABOUT THE VENUE

This month's Liquid Club was hosted by Bidston Observatory Artistic Research Centre, an experimental project based in a historic building on the Wirral, and directed towards cultural production and supporting the development of communities.

The Liquid Club #9: Fiction and Digital Storytelling

In our previous session, we read Ursula Le Guin’s The Fisherwoman’s Daughter (1988), a semi-biographical essay reflecting on the challenges of being a writer and a mother. The text led us to a wider discussion about the conditions for artistic practice and the insufficient consideration of children in the art world. We broadened this perspective and thought in a wider sense about parenthood and what it means to combine care and artistic production.

For October’s Liquid Club, we invited researcher and lecturer Samuel Solnick to present a selection of short stories. We looked at a combination of fiction and digital storytelling to explore interlinked issues around globalisation, natural disasters, media, neo-colonialism and the relationship between economy and ecology. We read acclaimed authors Herman Melville, Margaret Atwood and Ben Okri and experienced the interactive documentary After the Storm.

TEXTS AND LINKS

A short excerpt from Herman Melville’s 1849 novel Redburn describing life for American sailors on the Liverpool docks – download here.

A one-page piece of Margaret Atwood's flash fiction that moves from myth to science fiction to track the rise and fall of civilisation – read here.

A magical-realist short story from Ben Okri about the Nigerian oil industry – download here.

An interactive documentary about loss and living through the aftermath of a natural disaster – view here.

ABOUT SAM SOLNICK

Sam Solnick is a lecturer in English at the University of Liverpool, specialising in 20th and 21st-century literature, particularly representations of ecology and environmentalism in the arts. He is Co-Director of the University’s Literature and Science Hub and a contributing editor at The White Review.

The Liquid Club #8: The Fisherwoman's Daughter by Ursula Le Guin

In our previous discussion, we examined Denise Ferreira da Silva’s argument on how the racial is integral to facilitating global capital’s access to productive resources such as bodies and land. Furthering the ethical dimension of Silva’s question, in this session we thought of ethics as a place of articulation that would respond to the question of care.

For this month’s Liquid Club we read Ursula Le Guin’s The Fisherwoman’s Daughter (1988), a non-fiction essay that reflects on the struggle to combine writing and motherhood. Here, Le Guin revisits a scene from Margaret Drabble’s The Millstone in which the narrator is working on a book review, not realising that her eight-month-old baby is eating her flatmate’s manuscript novel. The episode is a symbolic representation of the dilemmas women face in being forced to choose between writing or having children, with the implication that one would necessarily kill the other. Le Guin also tackles the lack of women’s representation as writers in fiction. She discusses how the realities of women in literature have often been portrayed through the lens of the other – husband, lover, son – rather than the woman herself.

Le Guin was one of the most influential feminist writers of her generation. Being part of what is conventionally referred to as the “New Wave” of American science fiction writers in the 1960s and 1970s, her groundbreaking novels have upended the genre’s conventions as epitomised in The Left Hand of Darkness (1969). But, beyond her limitless imagination, it is in her understanding of the life of a writer where she highlights the practice of care. In The Fisherwoman’s Daughter, Le Guin comments on the ways in which women writers have helped one another throughout history: “…there is a heroic aspect to the practice of art; it is lonely, risky, merciless work, and every artist needs some kind of moral support or sense of solidarity and validation.”

KEY TEXT

Ursula Le Guin, The Fisherwoman’s Daughter, 1988
Download text

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ursula K. Le Guin (1929–2018) was an American author of speculative and realistic fiction, screenplays, essays, poetry, literary critiques and children's fiction, among others. She was primarily known for her works of speculative fiction, including works set in the fictional world of Earthsea, stories in the Hainish Cycle, and standalone novels and short stories. Though frequently referred to as a science fiction author, critics have described her work as being difficult to classify. Le Guin has won many awards, including a National Book Award, a Pushcart Prize and the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement.

The Liquid Club #7: Capital and Racial Violence by Denise Ferreira da Silva

In our previous discussion, we examined Sylvia Wynter’s argument against the normalisation of homo oeconomicus who projects capital as the indispensable, empirical and metaphysical source of all human life. Building on Wynter’s criticism, we also discussed Mark Fisher’s critique on how capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system. Against this backdrop, we read two essays by Denise Ferreira da Silva.

Intertwining Marxist critique of capitalism with critical race studies, Silva addresses the ethical questions of the global present. Her reflection on contemporary European states’ "refugee crisis" highlights how the racial is integral to facilitating global capital’s access to productive resources such as bodies and land. Silva argues that industrial as well as financial capital supports racial violence by reconfiguring the basic mechanisms of capitalist expropriation.

Hosted by Writing on the Wall

KEY TEXTS

Denise Ferreira da Silva, Fractal Thinking, 2016
Read text

Denise Ferreira da Silva , On Difference Without Separability, 2016

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr. Denise Ferreira da Silva is a Professor and Director of The Social Justice Institute (the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice) at the University of British Columbia. Her research areas include critical racial and ethnic studies, feminist theory, critical legal theory, political theory, moral philosophy, postcolonial studies and Latin American & Caribbean studies. She is the principal co-editor for the book series Law, Race, and the Postcolonial. Her art-related works include texts for publications linked to the 2016 Liverpool Biennial and Sao Paulo Biennale.

The Liquid Club #6: Capitalist Realism by Mark Fisher

In the last meeting, we discussed Sylvia Wynter’s argument against the normalisation of the bourgeois configuration of homo oeconomicus who projects capital as the indispensable, empirical and metaphysical source of all human life. Wynter points out how this normalisation activates the neurochemistry of our brain’s opiate reward and punishment system to act accordingly. Building on Wynter’s criticism of homo oeconomicus, this month’s Liquid Club read the late cultural theorist Mark Fisher’s seminal book Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? from 2009.

In the book, Fisher problematises how capitalism has successfully presented itself as the only realistic political-economic system. He analyses the development of neoliberal ideology as a particular operation of capitalist realism as a lived ideological framework, using examples from politics, films, fiction, work and education. Delving into the widespread effects of neoliberal ideology on popular culture, work, education and mental health in our contemporary society, Fisher highlights the collective depression we have all lived in for decades. His aim is to grasp the central features of the political-ideological landscape in which we are currently located, and to identify a possible route of exit. Fisher’s argument has a practical and strategic purpose and is precisely what is needed at a time when we are witnessing an unprecedented challenge to the capitalist system in this period of uncertainty.

KEY TEXT

Mark Fisher, Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, 2009 (p.21-30)

ABOUT

Mark Fisher, also known as ‘k-punk’, was a writer, critic, cultural theorist and teacher based in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London. His writing spanned radical politics, music and popular culture. Fisher published several books and co-founded Zero Books and later, Repeater Books. He passed away in 2017, shortly before the publication of The Weird and the Eerie.

The Liquid Club #5 – Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis

Building on our previous discussion about how to escape from Western patriarchal and colonialist ideas surrounding the body and the conception of the human, this month’s Liquid Club focused on an extract from Sylvia Wynter’s interview with Katherine McKittrick in On Being Human as Praxis (2015).

In the interview, Jamaican writer and cultural theorist Sylvia Wynter explains how Western man came to be considered the epitome of humanity by powerful knowledge systems and origin stories that explain who and what we are. Wynter then attempts to deconstruct the biocentric premise of the human as a purely natural organism in Western modernity. She explores a different possibility of reconceptualising humans as hybrid beings in relation to blackness, the Caribbean and migratory politics.

KEY TEXT

Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (p.9-24)

ABOUT

Sylvia Wynter (b. 1928) is one of the most influential anglophone Caribbean intellectuals. Her diverse writings explore race, the legacy of colonialism and representations of humanness. Major essays and publications include The Hills of Hebron: A Jamaican Novel (1962) and “The Pope Must Have Been Drunk, the King of Castile a Madman: Culture as Actuality and the Caribbean Rethinking of Modernity” in Reordering of Culture: Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada (1995). Sylvia Wynter: On Being Human as Praxis (2015) is a critical genealogy of Wynter’s work, highlighting her insights on how race, location and time together inform what it means to be human.

The Liquid Club #4: The Sound of Culture by Louis Onuorah Chude-Sokei

In previous sessions, we had explored themes of subjectivity, Western patriarchal and colonialist ideas surrounding the body, nomadism and posthumanism. This month’s Liquid Club – taking place in The Caledonia pub – built on these conversations.

The discussion focussed on music and specifically, the role that diaspora and technology have played in its development and consumption. To what extent have different styles of electronic music – disco, electro, Detroit techno, dub, krautrock and hip-hop – been influenced by geography, access to technology and industrialisation? And how might this be understood in relation to cultural philosophies such as Afrofuturism and contemporary popular culture?

Drawing on an extract from Louis Onuorah Chude-Sokei's The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (2016), the session also featured some active listening to key pieces of popular and experimental music to further stimulate discussion.

KEY TEXT

The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics (p.1-15)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louis Onuorah Chude-Sokei is a professor of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. His essays have appeared widely in publications such as African American Review, Transition and The Believer. He is the author of Black-on-Black Minstrelsy and the African Diaspora, which was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award.

FURTHER READING & WATCHING

Kodwo Eshun, More Brilliant than the Sun, 1998 (download text)
Kodwo Eshun, Further Considerations on Afrofuturism, 2003 (download text)
John Akomfrah, The Last Angel of History / The Mothership Connection, 1996 by Icarus Films

The Liquid Club #3: The Posthuman by Rosi Braidotti

Our discursive journey so far had centred around the Amazonian concept of subjectivity and the ideas of Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. We had also examined how Félix Guattari’s theoretical and political practice challenged Western patriarchal and colonialist ideas around the body, through the film Assemblages by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato.

In this month’s Liquid Club, as we faced the crisis of a further divided Europe, we discussed themes of subjectivity, individualism and the role Europe-centric humanism has played in this, using an extract from Rosi Braidotti’s book The Posthuman (2013).

We will assess the individual and collective impact on our social and political environment by looking at diasporic movements, fundamentalist appeals to ethnic differences, as well as violence towards a perceived ‘other’. In light of this, we will ask how might a theory of “post-humanism” and “nomadism” lead us to think of an enlarged sense of self: moving beyond a self-centered individualism and instead into a model that locates us in what Braidotti calls ‘an affirmative flow of relations with multiple others’.

KEY TEXT
The Posthuman by Rosi Braidotti (p.46-54)

FURTHER READING
Nomadic theory and the European project:
On nomadism: A conversation with Rosi Braidotti

European Alternatives: On Nomadism – Interview with Rosi Braidotti

The Liquid Club #2: Assemblages by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato

Building on our first discussion about the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and the Amazonian conception of subjectivity, The Liquid Club #2 screened a film by Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato, followed by a discussion.

Assemblages (2011) [15] is an audio-visual research project about Félix Guattari (1930-1992) and his revolutionary psychiatric practice at La Borde clinic in France. Comprising fragments of documentaries and interviews with Guattari’s friends and collaborators, the film explores his theoretical and political practice against Western patriarchal and colonialist ideas around the body and subjectivity. For Guattari, subjectivity is not located in the human alone, but distributed throughout the environment.

RECOMMENDED READING
Angela Melitopoulos and Maurizio Lazzarato
Assemblages: Félix Guattari and Machinic Animism
Read on e-flux

ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Angela Melitopoulos (b. 1961, Munich, Germany) is an artist-researcher in the time-based arts. Melitopoulos’s work consists of complex cinematographic cartographies that take the form of video installations. Introduced to video by Nam June Paik, she went on to elaborate the medium’s philosophical relation to time, memory, geography and subjectivity, notably in her long-term collaboration with sociologist and philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato. Melitopoulos is collaborating across political networks in Paris, Italy, Turkey and Germany and is a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen.

Maurizio Lazzarato (b. 1955, Italy) is a sociologist and philosopher. In the 1970s, he was an activist in the Autonomia Operaia workers' movement in Italy. Lazzarato was a founding member of the editorial board of the journal Multitudes. He is a researcher at Matisse/CNRS, Pantheon-Sorbonne University (University Paris I), and a member of the International College of Philosophy in Paris.

The Liquid Club #1: Exchanging Perspectives by Eduardo Viveiros de Castro

Departing from the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro and his Amazonian epistemologies, our first discussion focused on rethinking the body beyond its concrete physical boundaries.

CURATORS’ PROMPTS

Take the molecule as an instance. It enters our body as we eat or breathe, or it is absorbed by our skin. It is transgressed. Can we tell at what exact moment that molecule becomes part of our bodies? Can we tell when it will cease to exist? It is hard to say. Exactitude becomes a challenge and the boundary between inside and outside becomes unclear.

In Western thought, we tend to think of the skin as the ultimate frontier of our bodies. It functions as a shell that separates our inner life – the self and the mind – from the outside world – society and nature. But, the skin is flexible and porous… and so are we. Like the molecule, let us recall that bodies are part of nature – like a river, an animal or a cloud – inasmuch as they are cultural formations. Our bodies are not autonomous, rational and universal, but rather multidimensional in constant interaction with people, animals, plants, artefacts, images and technologies that fabricate our contemporary world. And let us remind ourselves how often fixations function as impositions and how setting boundaries were a colonial tool.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eduardo Viveiros de Castro (b. 1951) is a Brazilian anthropologist and professor at Brazil’s National Museum under the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He has previously taught at École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, University of Chicago and University of Cambridge. He is the author of many publications on anthropology and ethnology, including Humanity and Divinity in an Amazonian Society (1992), The Amazon: Ethnology and Indigenous History (1993) and The Inconstancy of the Wild Soul and other essays on Anthropology (2002).

Melodic Distraction

The Liquid Club is delivered in partnership with Melodic Distraction Radio, an independent platform, radio station and events programmer based in Liverpool. Composed of a roster of local musicians, festivals, curators, venues owners, DJs and producers, the collective has blossomed over the last five years into a community-led hub for new music and emerging culture. As a digital place for artistic and creative experimentation and development, the platform has served as a springboard to many musicians and DJs careers.