Social Sound

Dates: 5th of January – 16th of February 2013
Location: De Blokhuispoort, Leeuwarden
Artists: Ferhat Özgür, Marijn van Kreij, Steven Jouwersma, Matt Stokes, Jeremy Deller, David First, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Toon Fibbe, The Little Sisters of Gay Mutton, Elena Bajo, Elke Uitentuis & Nienke Jansen, Bouke Groen, Katarina Zdjelar and !Mediengruppe Bitnik.
Extra: a performance by Dutch composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven.
Curator: Lennard Dost

Pop culture – and specifically: music – is very much ‘alive’ in Leeuwarden, the city in the Northern part of Holland, where I used to work as curator of art initiative VHDG. There’s the Academy for Pop Culture, there are festivals like ‘Welcome to the Village’ and ‘Explore the North’ + a lot of people enjoy singing in choirs in the province of Friesland. So, when I had to come up with an idea for a first project, I decided it would be ‘music’.

Photos © Pepijn van den Broeke

Social Sound was about how music brings people together and what role music plays in our daily life.
Main part of Social Sound was the exhibition in De Blokhuispoort, which is a former jailhouse that now functions as a creative hub. It’s located close to Leeuwarden Central Station.

Sonic restaurant
Another part of Social Sound was the Sonic Restaurant, which was a concept of American artist David First. The Sonic Restaurant was located at the Zaailand shopping centre (close to Leeuwarden Central Station). In stead of serving food, it only served music. With his concept, First tries to bring people together via music. He tries to create this ‘shared-experience’, which you won’t get when sitting behind your computer and listening to music on your own. First came over to Leeuwarden for this project.

Complaints Choir
Next part of the project was a new version of the Complaints Choir, a concept of Finnish artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen. Kalleinen & Kochta-Kalleinen gave the inhabitants of Leeuwarden a voice, by letting them summit complaints via email, after which all comlaints where gathered by us and turned into a song, with the help of local composer Jaap Oosterwijk. The following 5 weeks, the song was practised with all people that send in a complaint, and eventually the song was song in public space of Leeuwarden, with the help of Oosterwijk and professional piano player Remko Wind.

Photos © Pepijn van den Broeke

Omrop Fryslan attended the performance of Complaints Choir Leeuwarden. The item was broadcasted on January 2013 in the K-rute programme.
Video is in Dutch.

On the 1st of February 2013 the Complaints Choir Leeuwarden performded in the city centre of Leeuwarden. Hereby the video registration of the performance. Video is in Dutch.

Collaboration Academy for Pop Culture
Artists Elke Uitentuis & Nienke Jansen wanted to research ‘a new political sound’, a new form of musical protest, and collaborated with students of Academy for Pop Culture for this purpose. The artists wanted to research if they could create a new base for Dutch protest songs in Leeuwarden, with the help of the students. While at the same time an installation was present in the exhibition in De Blokhuispoort, in which Uitentuis & Jansen gave the audience via maps information about what kinds of protests had been organized in Leeuwarden in the past couple of decades, and where they where organized exactely and by whom. In January 2013 Uitentuis & Jansen, with the help of Samuel Vriezen and Quinsy Gario, gathered with some students of Academy for Pop Culture, in order to research new forms of politcal protests. The outcome of the workshops could be heard in the public space of Leeuwarden at the end of January 2013.

Omroep Fryslan did an item about the workshop that artists Elke Uitentuis & Nienke Jansen organised for and with students of the Academy for Pop Culture (Leeuwarden). The item was broadcasted on the 30th of January 2013 in the K-Rute programme.

Performance Merlijn Twaalfhoven
Next part of Social Sound was the performance organized by composer Merlijn Twaalfhoven. Twaalfhoven is very socially engaged, and succeeds in letting people experience music in a different way. His new project called ‘The Air we breathe’ was all about the human voice. It included singers with different cultural backgrounds, singing together with local amateurs. The performance was organinized on the 2nd of February 2013, at De Blokhuispoort.

Photos © Pepijn van den Broeke

Social Sound Radio
We also did create a radio programme, which was broadcasted live by local radio Station Zeilsteen Radio, which is also located at De Blokhuispoort. The radio programme was broadcasted on the 1st of February 2013.

Photos © Pepijn van den Broeke

The broadcast started at 20h, and was presented by Sander Nieuwenhuijsen, editor at NTR Radio. He was helped by Philippus Zandstra, former music journalist at OOR and Dagblad van het Noorden (and at present: editor at NRC handelsblad. 2018).
Guests were:

– Evert Bisschop Boele: Associate Lector at Hanzehogeschool Groningen and Prins Claus Conservatorium, Groningen. Bisschop Boele’s specialisation is music as social practise and non-western music
– Remko Wind. piano player Complaints Choir Leeuwarden
– Jaap Oosterwijk, composer of the Complaints Choir Leeuwarden song
– artist Nienke Jansen together with one of the students of Academy for Pop Culture that took part in the workshop by Uitentuis & Jansen

There were performances by Zinkzand and Charlie Jones’ Big Band as well, broadcasted live via Zeilsteen radio.
One can re-listen to Social Sound radio: here.

Film program
Social Sound included a film programme as well, curated by Mare van Koningsveld. The films could be seen at Academy for Pop Culture.
– Wednesday 23rd of January 2013: Over Canto. Director: Ramon Gieling
– Wednesday 30rd of January: Sound of Noise. Directors: Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson
– Wednesday 6th of February 2013: We are Together. Directors: Thina Simunye and Paul Taylor
– Wednesday 13th of February 2013: Songs of War: Music as a Weapon. Director: Tristan Chytroschek.

Every screening was followed by a discussion with art historian/ film lover David Stroband.

Also part of Social Sound; 2 lectures. The lectures programme was curated by Mare van Koningsveld.
– Saturday 19th of January: lecture + workshop by musical therapist Ton Turkenburg.
– Saturday 26th of January: lecture by professor Ad Vingerhoets.

Furthermore on Friday the 15th of February there was an Opera-sing-along by The Little Sisters of Gay Mutton.

Workshop build your own snare instrument
On the 16th of February 2013 we organized a workshop by Yuri Landman. Landman is famous for building custom made guitars/ snare instruments for bands like Sonic Youth, dEUS, Blood Red Shoes. During the workshop participants could build their own instrument. They were allowed to take the instruments home afterwards.

And last but not least; we organized an educational workshop for children (by VJ-collective Nou & Herkauw).
Children had to come up with a story which had to be situated in a world full of noise. The main character had to go on a journey in a world which was inhabited by excentric creatures and people, all of whom were part of the country of “Klankenland”. The children not only had to come up with the story, but also had to make the sounds, for which they had to build their own instruments, made of scrap materials. They also had to visualize the story, making use of all kinds of technics. They a.o. used software programs like Animata, I-Stopmotion and Tagtool. Each scene got its own drawing, surrounding, characters and situation.
In the end everything came together and led to an animation.

Photos © Yvonne Blaauw

Social Sound got a lot of press attention. Leeuwarder Courant wrote 7 articles about the project. Friesch Dagblad wrote 1 article. Omrop Fryslan did a couple of radio/tv items about the project. Metropolis M interviewed me, as did VPRO’s De Avonden. You can find the De Avonden radio interview : here
You can find the Metropolis M interview here.

Social Sound was made possible by: Mondriaan Fund, Gemeente Leeuwarden, VSB Fonds, SNS Reaal Fonds, Stichting Albino, Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds Fryslan.




  • Friesch Dagblad

  • Leeuwarder Courant

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