“You are so sound!”
In our series of interviews with Culture of Solidarity Fund grantees, please meet Ilaria Gadenz of Radio Papesse who gives us an insight on their project “You are so sound!”
First of all, Ilaria, who are you?
“Radio Papesse is an online audio archive devoted to contemporary art; it is a place for documenting and critical thinking around the visual arts and at the same time, it is a radio platform that promotes and distributes sound art, experimental sounds and radiophonic productions. It has embraced radio as a medium and as a language to talk about art and to make art. In the last fifteen years, we have commissioned sound works, inviting artists, producers and DJs to renew the rules of broadcasting and radio storytelling.
It’s been a long roller coaster-kind of journey since 2006, when Radio Papesse was founded in Siena, as an offshoot of Palazzo delle Papesse Contemporary Art Center up, from where we did broadcast the many voices that crossed its path. Nowadays we are based in Florence, at Villa Romana – with which we regularly team-up on diverse projects – and we independently run a program that balance local and international scopes, our interest in radio as art and sound as a critical tool of investigation, and our support to the ever-evolving narrative languages of audiocraft.”
What made you think of the project?
“It was around April 2020 when – strictly locked down at home and slowly coming to term with the pandemic, the horror and fear – we started envisioning the long lasting effects that Covid-19 would have had on our communities, on our own job and life. It is around that time that we asked a few friends and colleagues to join us in a conversation around possible ways to support those artists, producers, authors and audio makers at large, whose work – especially that experimental, innovative and research-driven – was at stake. Covid-19 is not the only cause of the great uncertainty in which audio making – and listening as cultural practice – is relinquished: it simply exacerbated an ongoing international leitmotiv.
In Europe, except few rare national cases, the erosion of public investment in authorial radio production, leads to a low propensity for experimentation and a significant reduction in new commissions. In Italy, this goes hand in hand with a fragile network of independent producers, a profession regrettably characterised by discontinuity of employment, complemented by uncertain, if not unregulated, contracts. Radio Papesse and our latest offspring LUCIA Festival would not exist without an international, heterogeneous and cross-pollinating web of audio makers and we decided to channel our own energies not only in promoting it by above all in funding and sustaining their work. That is how the You Are So Sound! [YASS!] mentorship program and production grant was born, as a five-month training program for emerging and experienced producers.”
What will “You are so sound!” contribute to our continent, post Corona?
“Unfortunately, we must answer this question by embracing unpredictability. The current new Covid-19 waves – and the many variants that differently shift and muddle the recovering times in Europe and beyond – are postponing the idea of a POST Corona scenario. And Covid-19 has shed light and made some of the flaws of the cultural system even more evident.
YASS! was born with these premises but our aim is to support and to refresh a collaborative system of training, exchange and audio production. By contributing to experimentation in the audio formats, by bringing together audio makers from different backgrounds and training – sound artists together with podcasters, radio documentarists with sound designers – by giving open and free access to YASS! online public program, we aim to expand the opportunities and knowledge of individual audio makers, to widen their working and commissioning networks behind their home countries.
We have received more than 100 projects, we have selected 3 mentees and got to know – as much as the other jurors and mentors – extremely talented artists coming from all across Europe. YASS! – we are sure about that – is not only about giving a shortlist of laureates the chance to have a new piace done and distributed, it is not only a way of supporting national, local productions to promote them internationally. It is our way to give European audio makers the chance to take risks.”
Do you have plans to grow from local to pan-European?
“Well, in part it is already a pan-European project. We have partners in Italy, in Brussels and Amsterdam and our mentors are based in Germany and Denmark and Belgium. Our online masterclasses series is far beyond than European, we have also invited lecturers based in the US, UK and Chile for instance… But we’d love to widen up our ‘audiocraft geographies’ within Europe, we have been closely listening to what’s been produced in East Europe, in Romania, Polonia, in Lithuania and – especially in the frame of, and thanks to another long-lasting projects of ours, Süden Radio – we are always listening to our Southern neighbours, to decenter our expectations and find new ways of telling stories in sound.”
Lastly, how does your project help to make Europe an open and shared public space for everyone?
To listen is a political exercise, it is a cultural practice and that’s why it is important to share its experience, promoting new voices and productions subverting the mass media narratives, going beyond genres, mainstream formats – languages and topics – and geographical borders. Sound tells the best stories, it helps build other narratives and that is why we want to foster a multilingual space.
You are so sound! is not only about training in fact, but also about seeding and distributing innovative audio productions across borders by: translating and subtitling them in English and Italian, partnering with European audiocraft festivals, publishing their subtitled video versions online and broadcasting them.”
Granted: 12500 euros