BAK, basis voor actuele kunst is proud to present Spectral Infrastructure, a weekend of presentations, conversations, and listening sessions convened by freethought (Adrian Heathfield, Massimiliano Mollona, Louis Moreno, Irit Rogoff, and Nora Sternfeld) with guests James Clifford, DJ Lynnée Denise, Edward George, Paul Rekret, and Dhanveer Singh Brar.
How did we come to believe that infrastructures, the beloved components of material progress, sustain us and deliver all that we need? By proposing the notion of “spectral infrastructure”—a haunting presence within a structural organism—freethought collective puts forward a doubt that what is needed is both knowable and deliverable. Instead, “spectral infrastructure” gestures toward the hidden, unacknowledged textures and registers that dwell in mundane structures, allowing us to inflect the necessary with the desired. In a series of presentations, conversations, and listening sessions, freethought sets out to reveal the spectral within the perceptible by invoking notions of “the unarchivable” and “(im)possible realism”; by navigating “airs” that sustain both resonance and remnants; and by collectively exploring music that “unhouses” the claims to property and individual accumulation—they try and agitate the belief that everything eventually delivers.
The Unhoused Music section of this gathering is convened in collaboration with the 2022 Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht. Departing from Cedric J. Robinson’s proposition that “. . . there is indeed a place where we have to impose and deposit all of ourselves. We know that race is inadequate, we know that gender is inadequate but just because they are inadequate does not mean there is not indeed a location for all of us.” Unhoused Music inquires into the relationship between the sound of music and a sense of place—one that is sometimes so direct that it appears almost intuitive. The relationship between jazz and New Orleans, dub and Kingston, house and Chicago, and techno and Detroit, for example, seem to suggest that music is another kind of urbanism—a different way in which the city inhabits us. But how do we square that with the proposition that if Black music is, as author Fumi Okiji says, a particular kind of dwelling, it is both a refuge for the homeless and a tradition of criticism whose radicality resides in the fact that the idea of home ownership was always a trap? Across a sequence of three conversations and various selections of music, Unhoused Music considers the ongoing work of Black music, and how it temporally rearranges the collective desire for space, place, home, and land—generating a very different sense of social ecology, urban planning, and historical time.