Janna Holmstedt is an artist and researcher based in Stockholm. She works transdisciplinarily with various media and contexts, ranging between installation, sonic fiction, writing, and performance with a particular interest in listening and storying. Her work also incorporates collaborative projects, where she’s been engaged in creating different platforms for sharing knowledge and experiences.
Holmstedt’s research focuses on how sound and listening, in a visually dominated culture, could mediate new relationships with the more-than-human. She explores entangled issues such as multispecies relations, interspecies communication, and the intra-action of bodies, environs and technology. Her project works transversally – across scales, levels, disciplines, and localities – in order to weave a web of parasitic relations in an attempt to restory more-than-human relations and less anthropocentric we-formations. Currently she’s heading the collaborative art project ”Anthropomorphic Interfaces” with support from the Swedish Arts Council.
Through the use of media and technology, our relationships to physical bodies, human as well as non-human can be altered. Recording technologies allow us to separate voices from bodies, extract sounds from an environment and reinstall them elsewhere, thus creating new assemblages of various bodies, sounds, materials, and spaces. As visual artist, Holmstedt inquiries into these changing relations between bodies, technologies and environs. In her work, there’s a specific engagement with the auditory dimension and an attempt to unfold ocularcentric biases and modes of thinking-being, where vision is the privileged sense and primary metaphor for knowing. A turn to the auditory domain, she proposes, opens new possibilities to approach complex relations and messes. Sound has a special capacity to transgress and renegotiate established perceptions and borders, at the same time as it renders the underheard or not-yet-heard tangible. To turn to an auditory domain is here not a question of closing one’s eyes, or going “blind”, but of taking more of the sensuous and bodily experiences into account.
In her doctoral dissertation, Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In? Explorations into Listening (2017), Holmstedt departs from the archival material of American neurophysiologist John C. Lilly, who conducted controversial scientific experiments with dolphins, as well as on himself. In the 1950s and 1960s, Lilly and his research collaborators attempted to teach dolphins to speak English and recorded the results on tape. Holmstedt pays special attention to the “Wet Live-In” experiment, where Margaret Howe lived with Peter Dolphin for 75 days in a flooded house, and where complex relations were weaved despite, rather than because of, the daily language lessons.
Lilly’s experiments and sound recordings serve as a departure point for the consideration of new areas of perception and experience that sound technology has made possible: from the discovery of whale songs in the deeps of the oceans, to outer space with the hope of communicating with other intelligent life, to the womb and the sound environment of the fetus.
If dolphins were companion species through whom anthropocentric word(l)ings could be unlearned and restoried in her doctoral work, Holmstedt turns to soil and Zea mays in her current project ”Anthropomorphic Interfaces”. Together with artist Lars Siltberg and writer/artist Erik Nilsson, she explores if and how anthropomorphism can be used critically and strategically in an artistic practice. The work is situated in an urban allotment in the south of Stockholm, and involves film, sound, soil, installations, and the growing of Zea mays (corn). The process involves material entanglements with soil and sound, and turns attention away from representation towards affective intensities and materialities.
Affiliations, Memberships and Networks:
Member of The Posthumanities Hub
Member of and citizen scientist in the GROW Observatory
Member and part of the production group at Fylkingen – intermedia art and new music
Publications over the past five years (2013-2018):
Book manuscript in progress:
Holmstedt, Janna. Blåshålet, Glänta produktion
Holmstedt, Janna. 2017. Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In? Explorations into Listening (PhD dissertation). Lund: Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University
”You carefully write down the date, the place – then it escapes you”, Museum of Artistic Research curated by Erik Berg, the Swedish History Museum, Stockholm, Oct. 2018.
Then, the Bark, solo exhibition, Konstfrämjandet, Umeå, Sep. 2017.
”Articulations from the Orifice (The Dry and the Wet)”, Transistor – Broadcasting from the center of contemporary performing arts, Malmö, Oct. 2016.
In the Greenery, solo exhibition, Inter Arts Center, Malmö, Apr. 2016.
”Happiness, a Five-Year Plan”, with Karin Wegsjö, Inspired, Taoxichuan Museum and the Scandinavian Center, Jingdezhen, China, Oct. 2016.
”Hajar och andra djur”, Öyvind Fahlström: Kalas på BORD, Moderna Muséet, Stockholm, Sep. 2016.
Limit-cruisers (#1 Sphere), solo exhibition/performance, Weld, Stockholm, Feb. 2014.
Limit-cruisers (#1 Sphere), solo exhibition /performance, Inter Arts Center, Sep. 2013.
Peer-reviewed conference contributions:
”YOU-TAPE-GOD. Explorations of Voice, Constructed Situations, and A/Orality from Within a Visual Art Practice”, paper presentation at Vetenskapsrådets symposium om konstnärlig forskning, Malmö, 25-26 Nov. 2015.
“Are You Ready for a Wet Live-In? (Or, the How of Ms. Howe)”, paper presentation at Transvaluation: Making the World Matter, international symposium for alternative making of values through and in research, Department of Architecture, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, 21-22 May, 2015.
“She had a Disturbing Feeling She was Always Present at the Wrong Moment”, installation and presentation at the symposium In the Blend, Teaterhögskolan Malmö in collaboration with wlabs, Inter Arts Center, and Teatr Weimar, Malmö, 22-25 Apr. 2014.
“The Unfolding of a Morphe”, paper presentation at Bakhtin as Praxis: Academic Production, Artistic Practice, Political Activism, 15th International Bakhtin Conference, a collaboration between Södertörn University, Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg, Uppsala University, the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm, 23-27 July, 2014.
“What You See is not What You Get – Performance as a Mode of Thinking”, paper presentation at PSi #19: Now Then: Performance & Temporality, Performance Studies international conference #19, Stanford University, 26-30 Jun. 2013.