The Runaway (escape, stand still, trespass) by Brandon LaBelle


The Runaway (escape, stand still, trespass) by Brandon LaBelle

The Runaway (escape, stand still, trespass)

Brandon LaBelle

Curated by Sala-manca

Compiling a selection of works by the artist, the exhibition “The Runaway (escape,
stand still, trespass)” focuses on the itinerant, the self-organized and the restless as
particular expressions and figures of movement. Through a range of strategies and
creative processes, these figures interrupt the field of the visible by being on the run –
a running away that unsettles borders and articulates new social imaginaries. The
runaway acts as a critical figure that improvises and that requires support from others,
that migrates and that stitches together from gleaned materials, to carve out a pathway
of cultural survival. From alternative routes and creative withdrawals to daily
encroachments and secret solidarities, the exhibition brings us closer to the creative
potential of bodies in movement.
The exhibition includes the following works: The Free Scene (2017), Monument (to
the wild imagination) (2014/2017), Handbook for the Itinerant (2012), A Thousand
Secrets (2010), and The Sonic Body (2009-2011).

The Sonic Body is a series of recordings of movement improvisations performed by a
group of participants, as well as a set of recordings of individuals dancing to specific
songs heard over headphones. As an audible catalogue, The Sonic Body registers the
physical energies and expenditures one produces through dance and movement,
capturing them as sonic events. Rather than concentrate on the visual expressions of
dance, these recordings lead us into the unseen arena of the body’s more vibrant and
ghostly qualities.
In addition, a series of video works are presented related to the project Monument (to
the Wild Imagination). The works capture participating dancers and performers
staging a series of movement labs enacted in public in the cities of Athens and Berlin.
Movements and gestures are developed and performed that search for ways to express
the tensions central to the contemporary neoliberal city and the ways in which
creativity and the figure of the artist is harnessed for economic profit and marketing.
In response, the work asks: how might the creative body position itself in opposition
to its own capture? And further, how may we figure ourselves as bodies open to each
other and toward the remaking of urban values?
This is elaborated through a more recent video work The Free Scene. Shot within an
abandoned building in the city of Madrid, the video is a one-hour journey, with the
artist using the camera as an extension of his body. Comprised of a single shot, the
work brings us up against the materiality of abandoned space, finding in it an image
of urban crisis as well as social potential. Responding to the emergence of self-
organized occupations of empty buildings in the city, the artist performs a type of
inhabitation, a deeply slow occupation, highlighting it as a movement of cultural
Questions of space and movement are furthered through the presentation of A
Thousand Secrets. Originally produced for a public park in the city of Bordeaux, the
work is an audio guide that visitors may listen to through headphones while walking

in the gardens of the Hansen House. Through the headphones, a voice speaks to us
– is it a friend, or an enemy? Someone to trust, someone we might run away with?
The work invites us to enter into an invisible yet poignant interaction, drawing out the
deeply private arena of an inner listening and what it means to walk side by side with
Finally, the exhibition presents the text work Handbook for the Itinerant, which the
artist developed in 2012 for a public festival in Belgium. Consisting of a collage of
different narrative threads, from meditations on experiences of travel and escape to
bibliographies cataloguing publications on walking, migration, and vagrancy, the
work attempts to provide a discourse of runaway thought. As a Handbook, it may
work to guide us as we venture and drift, struggle over homeland or imagine future
Through the series of works, the exhibition is a meditation on what Stavros Stavrides
terms “communities in movement”: the emergence of new political subjectivity that
constructs, from the ephemera and potentiality of crisis, life open to others. As such, it
reflects upon the creative movements of bodies as the basis for reconfiguring social
relations as well as for crafting a new common imaginary.

Participants in Monument (to the Wild Imagination) include: Janine Eisenächer, Hana
Lee Erdman, Omar Nicolas, Steffi Weismann, Achilleas Chariskos, Myrto Grapsa and
Ioanna Apostolou.
Participants in The Sonic Body project include: Angelina Attwell, Nicole Clarke,
Shayna Keller, Eliza Pfister, Gerald Michel, Natalie Hofmann, Anna Posch, Isis
Martin, Lorenz Rollhäuser, David Günther, Miriam Jakob, Billy Mark, Catarina
Trota, Corinna Spieth, Teresa Mayer, Leo Nabuco, Trine Hylander Friis, Annette
Stahmer, Pedro Gómez Egaña, Bruno Lechowski, Martina Schaaf, James Webb,
Signe Lindén, Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec.

Based in Berlin, Brandon LaBelle is an artist, writer and theorist working with
questions of social life and cultural agency, using sound, performance, text and sited
constructions. He develops and presents artistic projects and performances within a
range of international contexts, often working in public. This leads to interventions
and performative installations, archival work, and micro-actions aimed at the sphere
of the (un)common and the unlikely. He is also an active lecturer working with
institutions around the world addressing questions of auditory culture, sonic and
spatial practices, and voice and the politics of listening.

His work has been presented at Documenta, Athens (2017), South London Gallery
(2016), Gallery Forum, Zagreb (2016), Tel Aviv University Art Gallery (2015),
Marrakech Biennial (parallel project), 2014, General Public, Berlin (2013), The
Whitney Museum, NY (2012), Image Music Text, London (2011), Sonic Acts,
Amsterdam (2010), A/V Festival, Newcastle (2008, 2010), Tramway, Glasgow
(2010), Museums Quartier/Tonspur, Vienna (2009), 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto
Allegro (2009), Center for Cultural Decontamination, Belgrade (2009), Casa Vecina,

Mexico City (2008), Fear of the Known, Cape Town (2008), Netherlands Media Art
Institute, Amsterdam (2003, 2007), Ybakatu Gallery, Curitiba, Brazil (2003, 2006,
2009), Singuhr Gallery, Berlin (2004), and ICC, Tokyo (2000).

Also a prolific writer, he is the author of Lexicon of the Mouth: Poetics and Politics of
Voice and the Oral Imaginary (2014), Diary of an Imaginary Egyptian (2012),
Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life (2010), and Background
Noise: Perspectives on Sound Art (2015; 2006). Through his work with Errant Bodies
Press he has co-edited the anthologies Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear
Volumes 1 & 2 (1999, 2011), Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language (2001),
Surface Tension: Problematics of Site (2003) and Radio Territories (2007), along with
a series of monographs (Critical Ear series) on sound and media artists.

He has various audio releases on international experimental music labels, and
regularly produces works for radio, notably for Documenta radio (2017), Kunstradio
in Vienna (1999, 2001, 2007, 2009) and Deutschland Radio (2009). He received a
Masters degree from Cal Arts, Los Angeles in 1998, and completed his PhD at the
London Consortium in 2005. Following his doctoral work he undertook post-doctoral
research at the University of Copenhagen from 2006 to 2009, in Modern Culture and
Sound Studies. In 2008-09 he worked as Guest Professor at the Copenhagen Art
Academy and at the Free University in Berlin, holding seminars on acoustic
territories, spatial practice and the male voice. He lives in Berlin and since 2011
works as Professor at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Norway.