‘A Dense Mass’ is a public event program showcasing Thembi Soddell’s recent back catalogue and new works-in-progress focused on representing and understanding the felt mental impact of trauma, anxiety, depression and so-called* mental illness through the intensity of abstract sound. This program is taking place on Dja Dja Wurrung Country in Clunes and surrounds, and is being developed as part of a Regional Arts Victoria Fellowship in partnership with Liquid Architecture, Clunes Free Library and Clunes Neighbourhood House. There will also be an affiliated website (forthcoming) that will publish the program (and subsequent documentation) alongside other aspects of Thembi’s fellowship research, including interviews with other regional artists on issues of access, sustainability and mental health in regional arts.
The first event is taking place on Sunday June 27th at Clunes Neighbourhood House, with details below. The full event program is yet to be released, but if you would like to be updated on its progress please sign up to Thembi’s mailing list on the contact page of this website. Event Two will be a concert taking place on Saturday 31st July at 7pm, with the venue yet to be confirmed. More details coming soon.
Love Songs: A Sound Performance and Lecture
3-5pm, Sunday 27th June
Lunch room at Clunes Neighbourhood House
Space may be limited, so bookings are recommended. Please email adensemass [at] gmail [dot] com to reserve your place.
We acknowledge that this event is taking place on the unceded lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung People. We pay our respects to ancestors and Elders past and present, and hope that we may walk together in harmony and in the spirit of healing.
For this lecture, Thembi will be discussing the concepts and methods behind the creation of their 2018 album ‘Love Songs’, and its accompanying book of concrete poetry, a work that reflects upon the felt mental impact of emotional abuse within intimate relationships. The lecture will be followed by a short performance in darkness to facilitate focused listening — listening to both the sounds themselves and the inner reflections they evoke within each listener. The performance will be followed by a question and answer session and audience discussion.
‘Love Songs’ grew from Thembi’s practice-based PhD research titled ‘A Dense Mass of Indecipherable Fear: The Experiential (Non)Narration of Trauma and Madness through Acousmatic Sound’, which examined ways in which lived experiences of so-called mental illness and trauma might be represented and understood through sound-based performance and installation practice. The dissertation can be downloaded here.
Please be advised that there will be some discussion of emotional and sexual abuse, however there will be no explicit details of specific instances of such abuse. The performance will have some loud, sudden sounds, with a few loud periods of 1-2 minutes, although the overall volume will be in a low-medium range. You are welcome to leave if you are ever uncomfortable, though please be aware it will be dark and you may wish to bring a torch.
The lunchroom at Clunes Neighbourhood House does not have a ramp or disabled toiled. If you need wheelchair access please email adensemass [at] gmail [dot] com, as we would like to do what we can to arrange temporary measure (apologies in advance they are not already there – we are trying to find a more accessible venue for future events). We ask that people do not wear fragrance to the event so those with allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities do not experience adverse effects (including Thembi!), but we also cannot guarantee audience compliance. If you have any other access needs please let us know and we will do our best to accommodate. We are also happy to discuss any other concerns you might have with the content if you have lived experience of anxiety, trauma or mental illness. Some find it comforting, others find it challenging (or often both), so please don’t hesitate to ask. We can also provide a transcript of the lecture.
As the work explores themes of abuse, we will not admit people under 18 unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. If parents would like further information on the content before deciding if their children can attend, please contact Thembi at adensemass [at] gmail [dot] com. Please also be advised that the sound levels may be too intense for children 12 and under (hearing is more sensitive below that age), so we do not recommend their attendance. The focused listening environment may also be difficult for young children. If child care is necessary please let us know and we will see if we can arrange it for you.
*The term ‘so called’ appears before mental illness to acknowledge that the Western medical framework for understanding these experiences is only one way of understanding these experiences, and it does not always resonate or is appropriate in context of various individuals experiences or cultures, and for many has caused significant harm. It is not used to discredit those for whom the term mental illness does resonate, nor the medical model completely. Thembi’s work aims to provoke thought around various ways individuals might find an understanding of their experiences that is most meaningful for them – be it within the medical system or outside of it.
The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund is provided through Regional Arts Australia, administered in Victoria by Regional Arts Victoria.