Europe and the Wolf: Militant Economies of Sound in Pere Portabella and Carles Santos
Sara Nadal-Melsió, Slought Foundation
Thu, 2/23 · 4:30 pm—6:00 pm · 300 Wallace Hall
Department of Spanish and Portuguese
This presentation is drawn from Nadal-Melsió’s forthcoming book, Europe and the Wolf: Political Variations on a Musical Concept. The book recuperates the Baroque musical concept of the “wolf”—the dissonant note that tuning systems of the time were intent on eliminating to guarantee the harmony of the whole. The first mention of the “wolf” as an emblem of disharmony, however, comes from the proverb “homo homine lupus est,” an endlessly appropriated phrase that traces the pervasive fear of what is foreign, of what marks the borders of a community. In the European context, the “wolf” has often materialized in the person of the stranger, the immigrant who, as a threat to the integrity of a presumably “harmonious” community, must be violently marginalized.
Focusing on contemporary aesthetic practices that respond to Europe as an unresolved conceptual and political problem, this presentation follows the “wolf” in between the musical and the political. “Militant Economies of Sound: Pere Portabella and Carles Santos” traces the way in which these Catalan artists explore the role of music in the production of a discontinuous European public sphere, whereby acoustic dissonance reorganizes economies and temporalities. It emphasizes the moments in their collaborative practice where dissonance activates political agency through a performative actualization of Europe’s musical patrimony as a collective and heterogeneous practice.
The lecture is co-sponsored by the Humanities Council, the Program in Media and Modernity, the Departments of English and Comparative Literature, the Committee on Film Studies, European Cultural Studies, and IHUM
Sara Nadal-Melsió is a NYC-based Catalan writer, curator, and teacher. She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, SOMA in Mexico City, and New York University. Her essays have appeared in various academic journals, edited volumes, and museum catalogs. She is the co-author of Alrededor de/ Around, and the editor of two special issues on cinema, The Invisible Tradition: Avant-Garde Catalan Cinema under Late Francoism and The Militant Image: Temporal Disturbances of the Political Imagination. She also cocurated a retrospective of Allora & Calzadilla’s work for the Fundació Tápies in Barcelona and has written a book essay about it, as well as edited a companion volume on the Puerto Rican crisis. Her book Europe and the Wolf: Political Variations on a Musical Concept is forthcoming from Zone Books.