Brandon LaBelle

The Hidden Sphere


The figures that hide, and that disappear into the night; the figures that seek shelter through temporary constructions, hand to hand and undercover; the figures that unfurl threadbare cloths to capture the wind; and the ones that drive forward the hope and promise of future homecomings; the figures that may form into sudden crowds to give way to new formations – of hidden cultures, deep echoes, and that give voice to the making of new languages.

This listening session considers the inherent precariousness and vulnerability of being a body. It takes its cues from recent writings by Judith Butler, on the performativity of assembly and conditions of precarity, and traces parallel expressions found in a selection of audio documents and sound works. As Butler suggests, the frailty of bodies out of place may provide a base for new formations of association and solidarity, particularly through gestures of hospitality and compassion. Might the experience of collective listening provide the basis for reflecting upon the weaknesses that bind us together? Can a sounding act assist in creating structures for nurturing a deep ethics, as well as social imagination?


Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer and theorist working with sound culture, voice, and questions of agency. He develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a range of international contexts, often working collaboratively and in public. Recent works include “The Living School”, South London Gallery (2016), “The Stranger Seminar”, Liquid Architecture, Melbourne (2015), and “Second Culture Session”, Tel Aviv University (2015). He is the author of Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of Voice and the Oral Imaginary (2014), Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian (2012), Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010), and Background Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2006). He lives in Berlin and is part of the Errant Sound collective.