Curious minds select the most fascinating podcasts from around the world. Discover hand-piqd audio recommendations on your favorite topics.
Co-host of the Episode Party podcast, author of Storm Static Sleep: A Pathway Through Post-rock, editor at ATTN:Magazine.
The piece is over in two minutes, yet this fleeting interaction is a rich and complicated one. One of the potential readings of Naka Naka Oka Aina, a sound work by Nicaragua-born artist Tamara Montenegro, is that what we dismiss as categorically simple can often transpire to be full of nuance and uncertainty. Behind the roar of a bustling city, we hear the voices that society consistently works to suppress: the chants of a Roma woman lost on the streets of Barcelona, or Violet Witt’s poetry about how the lived complexities of gender identity can be stripped away when coded into language. These voices melt into the din of passing traffic or the yelps of children playing, reduced to echoes by the sheer volume of their surroundings.
The true masterstroke of Constellations – a collection of audio art by a community of international artists – is the lack of introduction. I press play and Montenegro’s piece starts immediately. I’m given no explanation to contextualise what I’m hearing, left to comb through these sounds for meanings, patterns, subtexts… Everything I hear is rich in ambiguity and possibility, with no “correct” reading to rein in my interpretations. It’s only once the piece finishes that the artist explains their process, which means that it’s always worth listening to each episode twice: once in a state of glorious naivety, and again through the lens of the artist’s original intentions.
There are some incredible experiences on offer here: Israel Martínez’s hectic and poetic depiction of a car crash; Phoebe Wang’s collage about the eternal searching that drives the generation of art; Sol Rezza’s evocation of the maternal uterus from the perspective of a foetus. Each one is an opportunity to celebrate the power of listening: with intention, without prejudgement.