Story Is …
When you buy a trinket from far away, it likely made its way to you on a ship. Vessels have been sailing around the curve of the earth for centuries. But today our oceans are bisected into shipping lanes, infinitely crowded with fueled tankers packed with millions of trinkets—and pig carcasses and SUVs and baby cribs.
Above water, ships transmit stories, different from below the surface. Early in the process of gathering artists for this guest-curator series, Earlid’s deep-listener friend Adriene Lilly pointed us towards hydrophone-based artistry (which might jibe with her own travels across many oceans this year). Where is this ship sailing? (Kuda plovi ovaj brod?) is Manja Ristić’s album built from underwater recordings of sound pollution along the Adriatic Sea.
We should listen to the fragility in this composition for its evident climate-demise awareness. There’s plenty of anxiety around uncertainty; much less manifest is a celebration of water’s healing realms that often drowns our ears in nostalgia. This work haunts in its hidden telling of the underwater storyscape.
Story Is … encourages listening to the ways creative sonic practices are unfurling within increasingly uncertain futures.
Four curators arrived by happenstance; each offers one artist who questions how narrative is spoken and heard, structured out of the gems and ruins of old stories. Curiously, none are focused on ecological wreckage the way Ristić is. Rather they scope out the political or cultural turmoil of simply being a body in the world. That too is a curious chance element in this experiment in marshaling curators who then fan out across the artistry itself.
What arrives in this process is a unique expression and selection—a kind of Little Library of sound art and ideas. The exhibits unfold at the beginning of the month and then give way to the next curation, redolent of a ship lulling through turbid waters. Afterwards, they will moor in Earlid’s community archives.
Here’s the way our world is built, these artists seem to say; here are the scaffolds we climb to determine how we fit ourselves in.
Each of these artists and the curators who present them are making room to restructure our sense of storytelling to reveal broader systemic power and potential tremors of release.
Step into the murky consequences of such chance listening under the general theme, Story Is …
The title, including the ellipsis, comes from a dream. Sounds, like dreams, elude our grasp towards a future deemed to be untouched, untarnished. It’s another slippery, mercurial kingdom.
—Joan Schuman, Earlid curator, winter, 2023-2024