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Janna Holmstedt

Short Biography
Janna Holmstedt, PhD, is an artist and environmental humanities researcher, working in a feminist posthumanities vein of critical and creative inquiry. She investigates listening as a situated practice, the cultivation of care and environmental attention, and composition in the expanded field of genre-disobedient art practices. Her work includes sound-based installations, participatory performances, mixed media walks, storytelling, mappings, writing, growing, and collaborative projects. She is a key member of the research group The Posthumanities Hub, initiator of the art- and research project Humus economicus at National Historical Museums in Sweden, and co-founder of the collective (P)Art of the Biomass, with artist Malin Lobell. They are currently showing the work Four Sisters for Planthroposcene at Malmö Art Museum, Sweden, as part of the exhibition Sustainable Societies for the Future. Her most recent publications include Follow the Blind, Mimic the Wind, Become a Worm: Sonospheric Mappings by a Bag-Lady Soundwalker, Unlikely Journal for Creative Arts (2021) 7, and Interspecies Bodies and Watery Sonospheres: Listening in the Lab, the Archives and the Field, Leonardo Music Journal (2020) 30: 95–98.

Listening Session Abstract

This is not for you to see, this is for you to bear and to hold – as a leaky vessel, permeable, embraced by a sonic skin that both receives and transmits. Can we do this? Can we for a moment share space and participate through this mediated and delayed presence made available to us through technological extensions and fleshy bodies? In its most radical sense, hospitality involves giving oneself over to a stranger. I am a parasite. We are para-sites.

The prefix para- expresses the condition of existing alongside. This unavoidable distance sets a series of differences in motion. In language, as in storytelling, we are always on the side, wrestling with the differences and the parasitic relations generated by this condition. I embrace the parasite as a way to resist illusionary oneness, acknowledge power relations, yet remain open to the possibility of being with, being relation.

Michele Serres points us, in his book The Parasite (2007), to three different kinds of parasites: the biological parasites, living organisms that physically attach themselves to and feed off their host. Then, there are social parasites who provide entertainment in order to be welcomed as a guest at the table, as in the well-known figure of the travelling storyteller. Lastly, there are the technological parasites. It is both striking and telling that the French word for noise, or static, is the same as the word for parasite. In the information network it is not always clear who is the parasite and who is the host. My data might be your noise. Your message might disturb my signal. Now, think of "me" and "you" in more-than-human terms, and vast tangled networks of technological and ecological relations unfolds.

What I can offer is a parasite, or a network of parasitic relations. Para- is on the side, it is not on the thing, it is relation. The voice is a parasite too, the bodiless voice brought to you in this session is in desperate need of bodies to host it. Thank you for inviting me in.

Janna Holmstedt will hold the Listening Session II: Parasites.