Fourteen Years of Ràdio Web MACBA Annotated selection of podcasts
"Fourteen moments of friction, mutual understanding and being together. Not only from the pure nostalgia of not being so, but also from the pure restlessness and desire to be so again. Together and up in arms."
Anna Ramos, Ràdio Web MACBA
Sharing a yerba maté straw
val’s stuff was cathartic for Loli Acebal and me. My first yerba maté straw – astonishing to remember it now, what with COVID-19 on my doorstep – while they dismantled the architecture of schooling from a queer viewpoint and experience. Two cis women in their 40s sitting down for more than three hours, sensing how their extreme shyness gradually decreased as the footage and the account of systemic violence that a teacher embodies increased. val allowed herself to be dragged into the podcast’s kitchen and, after going over her writing many times, we realised that the questioning and the text had to mark the intervals of her discourse. Indeed, that text demanded a many-voiced reading, so we got the PEI students involved in the whole thing. In the complex logistics of the recording, they were alone in front of the mic and, from their pure intuition, we found the queer dissent in the intro, which the narrative had been crying out for.
“The distance between what is happening and what one claims to be”
Maria’s stuff was a crucial lesson. Pablo Martínez getting up to his old tricks: “It would be really good,” he said, while gently letting his hand fall onto my shoulder. He rarely fails. From one day to the next, we had sat down. Based on experience, doubts crossed Maria’s mind. AMOQA is a queer museum, only by the mere gesture of uttering and joining it. It does not have a space; it has a dysfunctional archive; it does not have any resources. They take a look at queer issues from the South and the Mediterranean, with the same fragility and vulnerability as her brittle, sweet voice with an accent. The recording was a disaster, full of artefacts that I had been unable to identify while live. Loli subtly sewed it together and Maria, by this time back in Athens, made a very homespun recording of fragments of the dynamic she had used in her workshop for the seminar “PIGS Self-Management”. After the coven, Roc Jiménez de Cisneros cleaned it and tidied it up as best he could so that the flat would be as decent as possible for visitors. Pure magic.
Silences, pandemics and free association
Still touched by her re-reading of the film archives of the artist Lionel Soukaz, and enraptured by the cadence and piercing sincerity of “A very partial traverse of European exhibitions and AIDS activism at the end of the Twentieth Century”, a translation of one of the chapters in her book Ce que le sida m’a fait– Art et activisme à la fin du XXe siècle, I – a bundle of nerves – sat down with Élisabeth Lebovici and Loli. We had less time than usual, and the recorder decided to make its own contribution of artefacts and constant noise, the origin of which I was unable to trace. We stopped and listened to what we had recorded. The first fragment of the conversation was unusable. Cold sweats and smiles on our faces. The clock did not stop and we went back to point zero. Élisabeth incorporated the deletion into her narration. AIDS as the deletion of a generation. Silences and death. Death in silence. Lebovici’s writing is pure free association and, from that tragic moment, with artefacts in the cupboard, everything is flowing and linked. The AIDS pandemic now connects us to the present.
Lunchtime. On the table there was a recorder, tea, nuts and some home-made cakes to keep our energy levels up. Also present was Fefa Vila, who had recently stepped of the high-speed train from Madrid without stopping for refreshment. She had had breakfast with María Salgado and had arrived personally shaken but very curious about what we were doing. We sat down with Loli and pressed REC. We looked back, while she outlined a genealogy of queer, feminist and sexual dissent movements in Spain from the 1970s to the current time. She spoke at greater length about the energy and turmoil of the lesbian collective LSD and of Radical Gai in the 1990s. And she did so with such grace and sincerity that we lost all notion of space and time. Three hours later, we had entered into her private world without feeling like intruders, and we spoke about and shared the desires, challenges and failures of lesbian motherhood. There was so much love that we have not yet tired of thanking each other for the time we spent together. The new pandemic arrived within two weeks. It is essential to use earphones to listen to this podcast, especially the deleted scenes.
We sat down with Enric and Maite Muñoz and pressed REC. When we stopped two hours later, we realised that we had skipped the first step: asking, before starting, if he wanted the interview to be conducted in Catalan or Spanish. A completely absurd idea came out of the previous conversation: that of getting together again to do a simultaneous translation of that recording, into Spanish this time, by Enric himself. We loved it. A few days later, we gave it a go without having any idea about how to do it. Performative dubbing, comments on comments, meta-information and a touch of fiction. Enric Farrés Duran in his purest state.
Allowing oneself to be touched
I knew Toni from the corridors, from the OVNI archive and through mutual friends. Too many years later, when we finally sat down with Roc to spend this time together, we were spellbound. His gaze and respect, humble and sincere, for other knowledge, rituals and epistemologies of the South, from our West and from spirituality, led me by the hand to feel and touch other ways of being. Trance and not-understanding as decolonial strategies. The conversation gave me one of my best friends. In it, we also talked about illness as an experience of transition and of altered being, before his illness abruptly deleted him from our present, only a few months before the outbreak of this new disease.
Raising one’s voice
An e-mail from Pablo [translated from Spanish]: “I don’t know if something for Ràdio Web MACBA could make any sense, Anna.” A few days later, Manuel Sanfuentes, Marcelo Araya and Andrés Garcés came to the museum and together we assessed the tensions generated by our technical and logistical limitations of doing interviews one by one, when what we represented was a lived, collective and horizontal experience. A week later, we met up with Antonio Gagliano and Linda Valdés, and Manuel Sanfuentes took us on a journey on foot around Amereida, to Ciudad Abierta, in Chile, a vast expanse of dunes, estuaries and gorges bordering on the Pacific Ocean, from which a series of experimental, imagined and collaboratively-built constructions jutted out. We followed the trail of little stones that Manuel subtly left on the path and then turned the map round 180º in order to cross the American continent, based on the kind of poetic gesture that had inspired the Valparaíso school. With Antonio, it was clear to us that it had to be the text entitled “Amereida”, Ciudad Abierta’s foundational collective poem, the one that crossed the blotches of honey that Manuel had left on the folds of our ears. We brought María Salgado into the debate to select and read the snippets. As generous and sharp as ever, she pointed out that too much was missed in this new South-to-North movement. We asked the collective to re-read “Amereida” aloud, more than 50 years later. The year changed on the calendar and Manuel got back to us saying that it was too complicated to organise it from there. Linda, who brought us the project and had been at the school, read the “Amereida” fragments. When it ended, after an hour and a half of repetitions, she commented: “it would have been nice to try it in a raised voice. That’s the way I remember it from the assemblies.” “Amereida”, a collective poem, re-read in a raised voice. That was it.
Two are better than one
With Desire Marea and Fela Gucci, there was no room for negotiation on our technical limitation of doing interviews one by one. We sat them down with two mics, without the equipment or experience needed to balance the audio input, and gave them some instructions made up on the spot with the aim of avoiding any major miscues, but Desire and Fela were having none of it, and they ignored the instructions from the very first second. While Desire was really talkative, Fela groaned, nodded and punctuated the conversation. Desire’s audio input signal was minimal, whereas Fela’s was saturated. In the background, the DJ, who was also with us, was having a nap and snoring. Quim Pujol chimed into the conversation and was in his element: voguing, cruising, lust, rituals, reality shows, performance, queer theory and canticles. “Being a Black African is a queer experience,” Desire noted while their vocal cords caressed the neurons. The hours, tests and technical imagination that Roc had to put in to save Quim’s sensitive edit were priceless.
Haga como que… (Pretend that…)
We sat down with Laura Valencia, a PEI student, to speak to Zenaida Osorio. The starting point was Radio Sutatenza, a literacy programme for Colombian peasants launched in 1947, whose main broadcast medium had been radio. The official epic story is that it was the first community radio station in Latin America, hence our interest in talking to someone who had examined its archive in depth. In the MACBA archive we found Haga como que: la violan, le pegan, a beautiful publication by the artist Zenaida Osorio, who questions the use of image banks – ‘buffer images’ as she called them – in the media. With her practice, Zenaida simply asks us to look critically at archive images: How have Radio Sutatenza’s archive been preserved so intact while others have not? What image, story, narrative does the archive convey? Who appears in the images and documents? How? And the most incisive question: Why? Radio Sutatenza’s and UNESCO’s official stories crumble before our very eyes at the frenetic pace of a succession of words uttered by Zenaida, a force of nature. In the edit, we hear from another woman, Violeta Ospina, and together we understand that the sound processing involved the use of the same Radio Sutatenza archive: letters from peasants, fragments from the newspaper El Campesino, learning cards… in ‘pretend’ mode. Juan David Galindo Guarin, Lina López Ortiz and Violeta pretended to be peasants, doctors and speakers.
One less teapot
After sitting down and having a conversation with Martha Rosler for hours and hours, with few intervals, Loli, Violeta and yours truly were gripped by Martha’s veiled invitation to appropriate and reinterpret her seminal work Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975). In her own home, Violeta Ospina reproduced different readings of Martha Rosler’s alphabet book and a teapot dies in the attempt.
In this podcast, Angela Dimitrakaki talks about a radical feminist critique, art systems, the commons and the community, while asking about the potential strategies of radical curatorship and collaborative practices. “We are the system,” she says firmly. With Loli Acebal and Lucrecia Dalt in the edit, we invited Antye Greie (AGF) to work on the sound for the podcast. Antye did such a good job that the result touched us all. And the most beautiful thing of all: Angela and Antye met for the first time and have continued to work together beyond the project since then.
Writing of movement and resistance
As well as a curator, dramaturg, author and editor, André Lepecki is one of the leading theoreticians of the subversive political potential of performance. Our conversation – more than three hours of learning bliss – can be summed up in a single word: ‘endurance’ – between resistance and resilience. We invited the musician and drum virtuoso Morten J. Olsen to record a sound piece in which he would play the drum until he could no longer do so. André Chêdas’s edit spans the tension of his drumstick tapping over 2 hours 22 minutes. Until exhaustion.
Pablo again. Hand on shoulder and an intuition: doing something with the Study Group on Afro/Black Ideas, Practices and Activisms. He also noted that Antonio Gagliano was in the presentations of his research works. Antonio came upstairs with Veronica Lahitte and we sat down, in three separate sessions, with Lucía Piedra Galarraga, Karo Moret and Diego Falconí. Lucía Egaña gave us the voices. In the process, my role was to listen, learn and give way. The sounds are from the RWM Working Group’s collective archive. Essential listening for all.
Ed Veenstra is a Dutch collector… shy, passionate and eccentric. His passion is for records and musical objects designed and/or composed by plastic artists, which come under the umbrella term ‘Broken Music’. He says that he has even eaten cat food to save money for his collection. I have highlighted Ed Veenstra because of the peculiar nature of the phenomenon and the character, but I am really thinking about the “Memorabilia. Collecting sounds with…” series. A Swiss army knife that opened the door to a sound prescription based on the experience of collecting: orality, narrative, anecdotes, music. It had it all. Except women collectors…
Ràdio Web MACBA
Radio Web MACBA (RWM) is an online radio project based at MACBA that dwells in the folds and intersections of critical thinking, contemporary art, artistic research, activism, knowledge transfer, sound… and everything in between.