SAW #3
19 – 26 September, 2020
organised by Æther Art Space

“Swan Song”

Æther presents Sofia Art Week 3: Swan Song from 19 - 26 September 2020 in the public space and various locations in Sofia. The swan song (ancient Greek: κύκνειον ᾆσμα; Latin: carmen cygni) is a metaphorical phrase for a final gesture, effort, or performance given just before death or retirement.

Swan Song is a zero-budget impromptu event happening over the course of one week in Sofia, organized in the context of turbulent times, from the need to put forward a boldness; to call for immediate action and unmediated utterance, something more akin to protest than to contemplation, closer to the culture of the street than to cultural representation.

Today we are living in an ongoing pandemic and political damnation. We, the uncomfortable citizens who became the disturbing elements in the system. Contemporary life has become the mimicry of a court case, which is the corrupt system of the panopticon – the prison, the asylum, the management, the government. In this climate of desperation, deception and fear – of contagion, control, poverty, debt – the Last Judgment is already happening on Earth, not before God, not after Death.

The only possible moment of Truth is the articulation of thought; of the moment of speaking; of the presence of the sculpted body – recited, sung, danced, performed. The Truth is in the condition of the presence.

By way of open call Æther has invited artists and non-artists alike to speak up and comment on the current events happening in Bulgaria – reflecting similar protests in Serbia, Poland, Belarus; as well as uprisings elsewhere in Europe and the world at large, protesting against state violence, corruption, white privilege, sexism and homophobia – or simply, the demand for human rights, equality, safety, and survival.
Covid-19 had threatened the inclusivity of social life – of a human life for all – deepening inequality and injustice even further.
Æther has called out to raise our voices to challenge this status quo.

Swan Song urges to regain our voices – because silence is complicity. It offers an open platform for one week, reanimating a speakers’ corner for personal politics. In Bulgaria today we are faced with the discriminative context where the public protests are not met with political reward. A voice is discriminated when it is not heard. Swan Song poses the question: what is the new voice of protest? Where are the radical voices, where is our political memory? What does it mean to implicate oneself? Is sacrifice still a “thing” or a living condition?

Swan Song presents a polyphony of different voices, that become melodic, a symphony. They engage with feminism, poetry, personal politics, history, ancestry, spirituality, ritual, conviviality, coexistence with (non)humans, care, and radical solidarity. They come out of the white box, out of their comfort zone that is the center. They engage with public spaces, into the periphery, and take the whole city as the ultimate platform, to become panopticon.

SAW 2020 Swan Song is a collaboration between Æther Sofia and the research project Migrating Voices. It is co-curated by Voin de Voin and Lisette Smits.

Swan Song is self-organized initiative of Æther, Sofia.

The week long even is in partnership with initiative such as Kvartal festival, Institutions and spaces as Goethe-Institut Bulgarien, +359 Gallery , Espace Port A, Belka studio for sound and form.