A 20-minute composition developed through workshops run by Thembi Soddell with participants Amrita Dasvarma, Melis Layik, Kim Le and Hassaan Memon.
UnKnowing Madness is a 20-minute composition developed through an online workshop series conceived by Thembi Soddell, designed to invite four people with lived experience of complex trauma–without their own experimental arts practice–into Soddell’s process of composing. This process involves recording real-world sounds such as field recordings, played objects and voice, sampling and shaping them into acousmatic compositions that reflect on lived experiences of trauma.
From August-October 2022, Soddell worked with participants Amrita Dasvarma, Melis Layik, Kim Le and Hassaan Memon to generate ideas and sounds relating to their individual yet entangled lived experiences of complex trauma. It included an objects workshop facilitated by media and performance artist Dr Vanessa Godden, a vocal workshop facilitated by voice artist and experiential therapist Alice Hui-Sheng Chang, and sessions run by Soddell co-facilitated with Mehak Sheikh. The participants were also provided technical support in working with recording equipment by Mofiz Ul Haq.
Soddell then used the sounds and ideas generated through these workshops to compose UnKnowing Madness, which premiered at The Big Anxiety Festival’s Lived Experience Forum in Naarm, followed by an audience discussion led by Soddell on abstract sounds’ ability to reflect lived experience of mental illness.
The workshops were designed in extensive consultation with Godden and Chang, with further input from racial justice consultant Erfan Daliri, ex-mental health GP and photographer Dr Kelvin Lau, and Scientia Professor Jill Bennett, founder of the Felt Experience and Empathy Lab (fEEL) at UNSW.
Researchers Lydia Gitau and Rebecca Moran from fEEL (UNSW) are also conducting research on the impact of the program on participants and facilitators. Once the research has been published it will be linked to here.
Participants were found via an open call for expressions of interest, which provides more information on the project and can be found here.
This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body. The concert was part of “New Kinds of Archives: Trauma, Knowledge & Feeling”, an RMIT Design Hub Gallery project. It is a part of the RMIT Culture program and The Big Anxiety Festival 2022. Thank you to Liquid Architecture and Yamaha for workshop equipment supply.