Good old Leeds is set to host Expo Leeds, the UK’s largest weekend of sound art and experimental music from 24-29 September 2009, is set to illustrate the powerful, creative and playful nature of listening.
Sound art, is an acquired taste. I feel as if you really need to enter it with an open mind. I’ve heard some incredible sounds, things that I didn’t even think about listening to, which is the beauty of sound art, but at the same time, I’ve heard some recordings that can drown your consciousness in a litany of mixed up sounds. I must admit, I am open to new things, so if experimental is your cup of tea, then this free festival in Leeds should be up your street. Expo Leeds will unveil a programme of major new sound art commissions for the city, including work by artists of international standing; Christina Kubisch, Paul Rooney, Lee Patterson, Chris Watson, Yannick Dauby and Mira Calix. The festival includes live performances, public events, workshops and a wiki-based, self-organising conference, to spark ideas about sound art and its relation to place and society.
The festival, presented by Sound and Music and Media & Arts Partnership (MAAP), moves this year from Brighton to Leeds, and offers visitors the chance to re-engage with the city in new, creative ways and to experience space, time and the urban setting through the art of listening.
Expo Leeds will unveil major new commissions including:
·Nick Rothwell & Lewis Sykes will create ‘PEAL: A Virtual Bell Tower’, an interactive multimedia commission for the Arena space at the Grade II listed Leeds City Museum, re-opened in 2008. Taking bell sounds from Leeds churches, PEAL invites audiences to play with the traditions of change ringing.
·A pioneer of the sound art genre, German-artist Christina Kubisch will produce a new installation at The Light, Leeds, inviting passers by to pick up
headphones and take an ‘electrical walk’ through the shopping centre, revealing a soundscape not audible to the naked ear.
·Winner of the 2008 Northern Art Prize, UK sound and video artist Paul Rooney will culminate a 12-month commission with a series of performances, exploring the decommissioned Leeds Metropolitan University’s H Building, and the lost stories and disembodied voices of its inhabitants, both fictional and real.
·Musician and artist Mira Calix, who’s recent work in Leeds has included Collaborations with United Visual Artists and Opera North, is working alongside artists Adrian Sinclair, Kypros Kyprianou & Glenn Boulter, with local young people to present experimental sound works at Leeds City Museum, that explore the collections and museum interior spaces.
A performance at the Howard Assembly Room will highlight the works of Peter Cusack, Chris Watson (long-time BBC broadcaster of the natural environment), Yannick Dauby and Lee Patterson. Live performances featuring local and national sonic art and noise music will be held on the Saturday and Sunday evenings. Expo Leeds will also present a new sound work designed to interact with pedestrians using the centrally located Millennium Square, through the BBC’s big screen.
Over 4 days, installations, screenings and live performance will happen in a wide array of unusual venues and public spaces. Chosen from an unprecedented 300 entries in response to the open call for artists’ work, Expo Leeds represents the cutting edge of sound art, presented for specialist and non-specialist audiences. The programme will also turn its
gaze towards the city and its future in a special workshop for practicing urban design professionals, run in partnership with RIBA Yorkshire and the Positive Soundscaping research programme.
Sue Ball, of Media & Arts Partnership said: ‘Expo represents a very special opportunity for the city of Leeds, welcoming the national public and artists to become immersed in what’s new in sound art and experimental music. Leeds’ music scene is truly diverse and it is rightfully proud of its traditions, from its DIY roots to the staging of international music events such as the Fuse festival and Opera North’s extended programme; the city is a hotbed of interest in the contemporary nature of sound and music. Pioneering works by Bill Fontana on the façade of Leeds City Art Gallery, and sound artist Hans Peter Kuhn’s work for the soon-to-be-launched ‘Light’ Neville Street, demonstrate the potency of public sound art. Expo Leeds takes this thirst for sound and music and sites it within the common places, where audiences can listen a-fresh.’
Richard Whitelaw of Sound and Music said: Year on year, Expo is where internationally reputed artists rub shoulders with the next generation of newcomers in this rapidly growing art form. Leeds is a pioneering city in many ways, with a long-established history of commissioning new sound art, and a place the art world should be tuned into. Its industrial heritage has left the city with some stunning and acoustically fascinating spaces that our artists have been inspired to work with. The canvas is sound, the setting is Leeds, and the experience is for anyone with a mind to stop, listen and enjoy.’
Expo Leeds: Festival of Sound Art, 24-29 September 2009
Listen to Sound Files from Expo