Sonic Plots / Enredos Sónicos

Sonic Overtures / Oberturas Sónicas

A collaborative project by/un proyecto colaborativo de N. Adriana Knouf (U.S.) and Fruta Bomba (Cuba)

Curated by/a curadia de Claudia Costa Pederson, Nestor Sire, and/y Lizabel Mónica

Boston/Habana, April/Abril 2019


Curatorial Statement/Declaracion Curatorial
Claudia Costa Pederson

Sonic Overture/Obertura Sonica concerns a collaborative project that is positioned on the intersections of gender, sound art, and music in Cuba and the United States. , to tune into the sonic to amplify the not yet audible, that which figures as of yet as unsound. In tuning into these vibrations, the project involves turning off the bad vibes of macho posturing that is the dominant track of our present political and sonic cultures. As a curatorial project, Sonic Encounters is attuned to the etymology of the word curating: to manage, to care for. To curate a sonic event in the present circumstances is both to attend to critiques of the militarization/masculinization of sound, and to the creation of opportunities for sonic remodulations with different tonalities. Sonic Encounters pertains to caring for the unsound; and as such, to nurturing the sensual dimensions of aurality.

In Sonic Warfare, Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear (2010), Steve Goodman writes that  “between the politics of noise and the politics of silence”, is yet another way of listening, a “politics of frequency.” This listening, which to some does not sound like politics, plays with “sonic processes and technologies of power” to “steer them elsewhere, exploiting unintended consequenses of investments in control.” That is, to transduce, or to transform “deeply ingrained ambiences of fear or dread into other collective dispositions”. Sonic Encounters extends this notion by inviting a U.S. artist and a Cuba based musician both of whom produce sound in relation to gender concerns, to collaborate on .    

Remixed. Five compositions:
Titles. Drawing on compositions created in collaboration , and presented at Wellesley Chapel, on Wellesley College, Wellesley, Massachussests.  

The project is available on its website in the U.S. It is distributed in Cuba via the paquete semanal, Cuba’s internet. Also a special edition of 300 usbs distributed in Habana on the occasion of the Habana biennial.

Distributed, free culture in Cuba and US.  


Launching Fruta Bomba through Sonic Overtures
Lizabel Mónica

Although we have been busy since last year, we decided to launch Fruta Bomba though Sonic Overtures, in the context of the Havana Biennial 2019. There are a couple of reasons for this decision. First, we like the fact of being an art project that contributes to the biennial by adding other sensibilities than those of the male creator. Second, we want to establish that by women we understand not just the assigned at birth gender identity, but a comprehensive spectrum that includes trans women and other individuals with a variety of gender performances and sexual orientations. Third, we do enjoy a project that understands music as a way of pushing the boundaries of what it means to listen in the age of techno-mediated content, and in between tense modernities.

Finally, we embrace the collaborative results that come from the union of artists Adriana Knouf and Damarys Benavides. While the first send her musical compositions for Fruta Bomba to remix, musician and Fruta Bomba producer Damarys Benavides took good care of the pieces by adding local sounds and rhythms. Sonic Overtures is a collaboration of two women from two countries that are involved in a complex historical and political relationship, now aggravated by the acoustic events denominated “Sonic attacks.'' With Sonic Overtures, Adriana and Damarys mixed their distinct sound sensitivity into some overtures or preambles for future conversations and continuous circulation of a diverse corpus of traveling waves.  

Contexto y distribución de Sonic Overtures
Nestor Siré
Sonic Overturesse concibe en un momento de cambio en las relaciones entre Cuba y US donde el concepto de sonido tiene un lugar primordial en las discusiones. Luego de que los dos países comenzaran un acercamiento histórico tras numerosos años de tensión política, las elecciones estadounidenses de 2016 modificaron nuevamente las relaciones diplomáticas entre ambos gobiernos. Además, en diciembre del 2016 algunos diplomáticos estadounidenses que trabajaban en la embajada localizada en la Habana reportaron padecimientos de salud que provenían de daños auditivos. Una investigación preliminar denominó el fenómeno como “sonic attacks”, nombreque se popularizó en las redes.Un equipo de científicos de la NASA, así como investigadores del FBI en colaboración con el gobierno cubano, se declararon incompetentes para descifrar el enigma y no pudieron detectar la causa del padecimiento de los funcionarios estadounidenses. Esto dio paso a muchas hipótesis lanzadas en los medios mas prestigiosos del mundo, las cuales incluyeron desde tramas más cercanas a la ciencia ficción que a la realidad,  orquestadas por técnicos de origen ruso mediante el uso de tecnología hoy inexistente, hasta la atribución de estos padecimientos al sonido emitido por un tipo específico de grillo propio de la fauna caribeña.
Aunque la internet es hoy una realidad en la isla, los altos precios y la lentitud de las conexiones limitan su funcionalidad. Estas condiciones han estimulado a través de los años la creación de disímiles alternativas para la distribución de medios digitales por medio de la interacción humana offline. La música ha sido uno de los medios que más ha influenciado el desarrollo de estas nuevas dinámicas en tanto depende en términos productivos y económicos de una distribución masiva que ofrezca la posibilidad de popularizar sus productos.
Sonic Overtures toma como punto de partida estas situaciones para crear un proyecto en el cual dos contextos culturales y políticos diferentes colaboran y analizan su imaginario sonoro. A su vez Sonic Overtures investiga las estructuras de producción y distribución informal de obras musicales digitales en Cuba. El proyecto participa de todas las etapas de la cadena de producción musical informal típica en la Cuba de hoy: la creación, producción y distribución de la obra.
Creación:La artista Andrea Knouf envió tres pistas de arte sonoro que desde una estética muy personal exploran el ruido, las interferencias, los bordes y limites de las tecnologías de la información y las comunicaciones.Luego, estas tres pistas pasaron a un proceso de post producción en colaboración con “Fruta Bomba”, un estudio de música multidisciplinario y underground que tiene como foco de atención la producción artística femenina. Nacido de la unión de la rapera Damarys Benavides y Lizabel Mónica, escritora transdisciplinar, Fruta Bomba usó ritmos populares cubanos para re-adaptar a manera de remix las pistas de sonido enviadas por Andrea Knouf, a fin de conformar un Demo compuesto por tres canciones.
Producción:El concepto Demo o maqueta musical es una de las estructuras mas comunes para el lanzamiento de nuevos productos musicales en Cuba, y suelen ser producidos en estudios caseros. El proyecto toma esta estructura como base para una curaduría sonora adaptada a este formato musical. El resultado final incluye la producción de 300 tarjetas de USB y DVDs, siendo ambos los formatos en que suele distribuirse la música popular confeccionada en estudios caseros.
Distribución:Se contrataron servicios de distribución alternativa propios de la producción musical informal en Cuba. Taxistas y choferes de autobuses que forman parte de el trasporte público y privado en la ciudad de la Habana se comprometieron a incluir el demo, por un periodo de tiempo de cuatro semanas, en la selección musical habitual que reproducen en sus sistemas de audio. Se contrataron los servicios alegales de distribución de flyers promocionales, a un tiempo que se pidió a esta persona que reprodujera en un dispositivo de sonido portátil las canciones del Demo mientras circula por los espacios de la ciudad. El demo será presentado además en las carpetas de el Paquete Semanal1 donde se comparten los últimos discos de producción nacional, pagando un extra para aparecer en el top 10 de los temas más populares de la semana.
El proyecto culminará con una exposición sonora mediante la presentación del Demo en un club nocturno de la ciudad de la Habana.




Biographies/Biografias


Fruta Bomba: the project

Fruta Bomba is a feminist multidisciplinary art project. Fruta Bomba was created to support the artistic production of women in Cuba. At the moment, Fruta Bomba has an underground recording studio, a dance company that offers classes to children in the Old Havana area, and a feminist workshop for all ages located in 10 de Octubre, a disadvantaged neighborhood in Havana. Fruta Bomba was developed by rapper Damarys Benavides as a community-based art project several years ago under the label Ibalu. Since December of 2018, the project is a collaboration between Benavides, the Havana-based Hip Hop artist, and Lizabel Mónica, a Cuban transdisciplinary writer located in the United States.

Fruta Bomba responds to the urgency of incorporating women's voices to the new underground Cuban musical scene. In a soundscape where reggaeton is the norm, there are only a few women among the composers and singers of the emergent music wave. The lack of women's perspectives is also latent in other circuits of the Cuban cultural sphere, including the press.  Fruta Bomba aims to fill in this gap to promote a more diverse and dynamic society where different intersecting communities can respectfully and productively interact with each other.

Since our goal is not national, we are welcoming collaborations with other women around the globe. We want to grow networks that can travel across local practices and their inherited connections with other places and traditions. That is why Fruta Bomba defines itself as a "women's productions from Havana, Cuba." Fruta Bomba is not made or manufactured in or is not a product of Havana, Cuba. Instead of a country of origin, we are looking for a community. Yes, our context will inform how we make our products, but the final results will be the fruit of partnerships and empathy.

https://www.frutabomba.org/ (Under construction)


N. Adriana Knouf (she/her/hers, sie/hir/hirs) is an Assistant Professor of Cinema and Media Studies at Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA. She is a media scholar and artist researching noise, interferences, boundaries, and limits in media technologies and communication.
Her recent book, How Noise Matters to Finance (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), traced how the concept of  “noise” in the sonic and informatic domains of finance mutated throughout the late 20th century into the 21st. Her current research project, tentatively entitled The Xenology Notebooks, is a transmedia, transdisciplinary corpus expansively considering the “xeno”.
She can be contacted at nknouf [[|(!at*}}] wellesley |@*$dot*($) edu or naknouf [[|(!at*}}] zeitkunst |@*$dot*($) org.


Claudia Costa Pederson holds a Ph.D in Art History and Visual Studies from Cornell University.
Her research focuses on topics at the intersections of contemporary art and media studies. Her
essays appear in Review: Literature and Art of the Americas, Journal of Peer Production, Media-
N, Afterimage, InterActive, Intelligent Agent, Eludamos, and ISEA, DAC, and CHI conference
proceedings. Book chapters are included in The Philosophy of Documentary Film, Indie
Reframed: Women Filmmakers and Contemporary American Cinema, Cinema em Redes:
Tecnologia, Estetica e Politica na Era Digital, and Latin American Modernisms and Technology.
Her book, Gaming Utopia: Ludic Visions in Art, Design, and Media is forthcoming from Indiana
University Press. Pederson is currently an assistant professor of Art and Technology at Wichita
State University, and the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival Curator for New Media. She can be contacted at ccp9@cornell.edu


Lizabel Mónica Lizabel Mónica is a Cuban transdisciplinary writer based in the United States. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University. She has been invited to talk about her creative and scholarly work at several universities in the United States, including Princeton, Brown, and Columbia University. Mónica is the author of numerous fiction and poetry works which have been translated and published in many anthologies. Since 2001, Mónica’s literary practice combines visual arts and writing into transdisciplinary pieces. Her short fiction text “Exercising the Productive Einbildungskraf” was recently translated by Margaret Randall and included in the anthology The Oval Portrait: Contemporary Cuban Women Writers and Artists (Ed. Soleida Ríos,  Wings Press, 2018). In the early 2000s, Mónica was the editor of several literary and interdisciplinary Cuban magazines. Now, she is the co-director of the art project Fruta Bomba. As a scholar, Mónica has published several articles on Cuban literature and visual arts. Mónica is currently finishing her doctoral dissertation on the influence of digital media in contemporary Cuban literature, visual arts, and music. Among her recent publications is “Alamar’s Last Poet,” a piece published in a dossier devoted to Cuban poet Juan Carlos Flores (Ed. Kristin Dykstra, Chicago Review, “Out of Alamar: The Poetry of Juan Carlos Flores,” Chicago Review 61.3/4, July 2018). Mónica is now working on her article "Media practices, geographies and social life of Cuban reggaeton" Cuban Studies (forthcoming, January 2020). Mónica has published the poetry compilation Distintos modos de evitar a un poeta (Ecuador: El
Quirófano Ediciones, 2012). For more information on Lizabel Mónica, please refer to www.lizabelmonica.com.


Damarys Benavides is a Cuban hip hop singer, poet, producer, and activist. As a rapper, she has been performing for more than 20 years under the artistic name Hezfiba. Benavides started performing at a young age in his home neighborhood, Diez de Octubre. Her current style fusions rap with pop, jazz, bolero, Cuban folk music, and gospel. Benavides has shared the stage with artists such as Uscher, Robinson and musical bands such as Diákara, Óscar Valdés, and Obsesión. She has been invited to participate in several music festivals and events like the Havana Jazz Festival, Jojazz, Jazz Plaza, and Festival de Hip-Hop Femenino. Benavides has two albums: Reflexiones and Un pez en el mar (in collaboration with the American singer Jahazara). In 2016, she founded the Women’s Workshop Ibalu to work with women from Diez de Octubre to work on issues like Sexual Health Awareness, Self Defense, and Gender and Sexual Diversity. In 2018, Benavides founded a Dance Company with a group of young dancers to work with children from Centro Habana, another disadvantaged neighborhood. Benavides is the co-director of the art project Fruta Bomba. For more information please visit https://www.damarysbenavides.com/

Nestor Siré (b. 1988) lives and works between Havana and Camagüey, Cuba.

My work is focused on informal ways of circulating information and goods, such as piracy, activities benefiting from legal loopholes, alternative forms of economic production, and phenomena resulting from social creativity and recycling. My methodology as an artist is to confront bureaucracies and preexistent structures to determine the best way in which art can i inntervene the complex relationship between formal and informal networks.

My works have been exhibited at the National Museum of Fine Arts (Havana), the Queens Museum (New York City), Rhizome (New York City), the New Museum (New York City) and Hong-Gah Museum (Taipei), among other venues. I have presented my work at the Gwangju Biennale (South Korea, 2018), Curitiba Biennial (Brazil, 2017), the Havana Biennial (Cuba, 2015) and the Asunción International Biennale (Paraguay, 2016). In 2016, From both an academic and pedagogical perspective, I have introduced my work to different audiences though workshops and lectures at institutions like the Workshop Behind the Net [El Paquete], DATA, ArtEZ (Netherlands), MIT, Open Documentary Lab and Program in Art, Cultural and Technology (Massachusetts), #workshop NAVEGATION_FOLDER,School of Art, Design and Creative Industries. Wichita State University (Kansas), !!!Informal Media Cultures and Contemporary Art in Cuba, PLAS in Princeton University (Princeton). Estructuras y redes informales en Cuba, Faculty of Arts and Letters, Talk for Department of Art History, University of Havana (Cuba). www.nestorsire.com

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