Speech Sounds - VISUAL

VISUAL Centre for Contemporary Art &
The George Bernard Shaw Theatre

Speech Sounds

Curated by Curator-in-Residence Iarlaith Ni Fheorais

Summer - Winter 2021 |

VISUAL Carlow is pleased to announce Speech Sounds, a learning, research and commissioning programme with artists Joey Holder, Jonah King, Kumbirai Makumbe, Jennifer Mehigan, Maïa Nunes and Ebun Sodipo.

Join us in the gallery and online throughout Summer – Winter 2021 for discussions, screenings, installations, texts, and research events. Speech Sounds explores how communication, language and bodily difference are represented in the creative genre of speculative fiction.

Verbal, written, signing and digital communication is at the heart of creating shared visions of the world, our sense of self, community and how we relate to each other. Speculative fiction, a type of storytelling which depicts realities other than our own, often deploys unconventional forms of communication to show new ways of relating to human and non-human subjects. We see this in the work of science fiction writers like Samuel R. Delany and Octavia E. Butler, and in films that explore human encounters with extra-terrestrial life such as sci-fi thrillers Arrival (2016) and Knowing (2009).

In exploring systems of communication, these stories often utilise bodily difference, modification or disability to challenge the limits of communication, creating situations that expand and rip apart our understanding of the body and how it functions.

Speech Sounds explores language under a speculative lens, investigating disabled, modified, fictional, historical and non-human bodies as sites of reimagining communication and its multitude of expressions.

Curated by Curator-in-Residence Iarlaith Ni Fheorais.

The visual identity for this programme was developed by Igor Brodecki.

This programme experiments with the idea of slowness, testing the potential of flexible deadlines, outcome and low-energy events centering the access, health and capacities of artists, artworkers and audiences.

Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland.

Upcoming Dates

20 August: Commissioned Speech Sound text by Chris Hayes

In the specially commissioned text, Against Bold Visions, Chris Hayes explores speculative fiction, language and bodily difference in relation to the artist's work and the potential of slowness in art.

9 September: Witches' Butter Digital Human Workshop by Jonah King

In this workshop, Jonah will introduce how ultra-realistic CGI puppets are made and animated, and how they are used in art, gaming and film. Following this, the group will be invited to share fictional and non-fictional stories in response to “Where does your body begin and end”

23 October: Following the Gourd workshop by Ebun Sodipo

Join artist Ebun Sodipo for a workshop exploring trans stories using collages, text and sound to record trans stories and histories, particularly black trans history.

About the Artists

Maïa Nunes (they/them) is a queer Black-mixed performance artist of Trinidadian-Irish descent. Their performance practice explores ambiguity as the site of transformative potential, ritual as healing for the afro-diaspora, and song as liberation practice. This work so far includes three major performance projects: performance series WISH, WAYS TO LOVE ME, and INCANTATION presented at Dublin Fringe Festival 2019. Maia spent the beginning of 2020 as artist in residence at The Alice Yard in Trinidad and Tobago, and is recent recipient of the Wicklow Arts Office Artist Support Award and the Irish Arts Council’s Visual Arts Bursary Award.

Jonah King is a media artist, filmmaker and educator examining how ecological systems give rise to culture and identity through films, sculptures, installations and extended realities. Recent solo exhibitions include Rockford Museum of Art (Chicago), NCAD Gallery (Dublin), University Galleries (Ilinois), Clima (Milan), Weekend (Seoul), and Meyohas (New York). King's work has exhibited at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, The New York Jewish Museum, Hesse Flatow Gallery, and Fotografiska Stockholm; received official selections at the Oberhausen Film Festival and London International Motion Pictures Awards. King received a BFA from NCAD Dublin and an MFA from Columbia University New York. They received an Owen Walsh Award, Andrew Fisher Fellowship and a Rema Hort Mann Nomination. They have featured in Artforum, The Irish Times, Mousse Magazine, Sixty Inches From Center and Washington Post. Ante Mag recently named Jonah "Artist to watch in 2021."

Jennifer Mehigan’s practice has always been situated somewhere between art and design, and in the past few years she has focused on widening the scope of technologies she uses to include modes of artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality, floristry, writing, parties, and meditative performances and films. Her work occupies a space where pop culture, painterly gestures, digital materiality, autobiography, “public feelings” (after Ann Cvetcovich) and self-help literature can interact, allowing her to investigate, often through a non-human lens, how power manifests in the world. She is an artist and researcher based in Belfast. Her work is currently focused on suppressed Irish lesbian historical figures and their graves as horticultural sites, uncovering queer strategies for surviving our crises of kinship and climate. Recent exhibitions include On Refusal, transmediale, Berlin (2021) and Creamatorium, PS², Belfast (2020). Jennifer regularly collaborates with Bassam Al-Sabah.

Ebun Sodipo makes work for those who will come after: the black trans people of the future. Their sprawling practice, encompassing film, performance, installation, fiction, poetry, and sound, is focused on devising new language with which to imagine and speak about the body, creating new modes of thinking and feeling the past, and filling, in some way, the gaps and breaks of the archive(s) of modernity, all pertinent technologies for those with a subjugated history.

Joey Holder’s work raises philosophical questions of our universe and things yet unknown, regarding the future of science, medicine, biology and human-machine interactions. Working with scientific and technical experts she makes immersive, multimedia installations that explore the limits of the human and how we experience non-human, natural and technological forms. Mixing elements of biology, nanotechnology and natural history against computer programme interfaces, screensavers and measuring devices, she suggests the impermanence and interchangeability of these apparently contrasting and oppositional worlds: ‘everything is a mutant and a hybrid’. Connecting forms which have emerged through our human taste, culture and industrial processes she investigates complex systems that dissolve notions of the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’. GM products, virtual biology and aquatic creatures are incorporated into an extended web; challenging our perception of evolution, adaptation and change.

Kumbirai Makumbe currently takes form as a London based artist who believes in the transmutation of the intangible yet experiential. They transform & metamorphose to ceaselessly take on various forms. They place significant effort into speculative explorations of alternative modes of being and thinking that result in emancipation. They are continually enticed by the materiality of digital matter and its limitlessness. It is through this that they interrogate the multi-dimensionality of blackness, ‘in-betweenness’, ‘caring’, transcendence and ethereality.