Essay and video lecture Pia Palme, on invitation from the symposium Performing, Engaging, Knowing @Luzern School of Music Sursee Campus 2020. Publication forthcoming in 2022.


The current COVID-19 crisis is yet another symptom of the Anthropocene. As a composer, I take notice of how my artistic practice is deepening with renewed urgency during this crisis, and as a feminist I locate my practice with the planet. The term ‘with’defines a specific kind of interaction and exchange that oscillates according to engagement. This contribution presents my recent investigations of interactions and relationships into several aspects of ‘with’. During this artistic research, I identify and investigate four different stages of connecting with an environment. I first investigate the term with from the philosophical stance, then from the position of an artistic researcher, thirdly from that of an environmentally engaged artist, and finally, within the context of a feminist position. I begin my discourse by explaining how I work with my everyday surroundings as an artist, how I direct my ears beneath the surface, tuning into a particular environment. The aim is to tap into the potential of a certain location or community, allowing the process of composition to unfold as a situational and political process. Handling my instruments, I rely on my ears: listening provides crucial information to playfully balance a situation. To conclude, I propose that the process of composing resembles organic growth rather than strategic action and is sustained by balance, empathy, resilience, and courage. This experimental investigation characterises composition as a kind of compassionate activism grounded in listening.

Duration: 20′
Videostill Pia Palme