“Listening is not a reaction, it is a connection.”
— Ursula K. Le Guin, The Wave In The Mind
A voice coming from my portable case guides my wonders and desires to meet the xenomorph inside of me, somewhere closer to the realm of possibility, where coexistence is the fundament of all politics. In this pursuit of sonic landscapes to befriend a General Feeling (2021) of being unbound, I met Lou Lou Sainsbury’s work and her mastering of sound as an imaginative and transformative tool and guide. In the arts, we often focus on seeing to investigate and abstract the horizon of possibility toward which our society is heading, but the act of listening has sometimes even more to offer to the purpose of change. To be heard and to hear are experiences of multiplicity fully wed to social life. To listen indeed implies the bringing of oneself into association with expanded relationality, locating audibility within a framework of generosity. To be heard instead is to cross boundaries and membranes, to demand recognition, to seek a place at-times within spacious geographies. Right there, inscribed in trans history, queer narratives and social sci-fi, where music and radio have always offered sources of collective expression and community building, Sainsbury trains the ears to become better listeners and to speak of and for the living beings unregistered from the exceptionalist tunes of power. In relationality as empowerment, in playing, speaking and listening, in the continuity between language and collective imagination, Sainsbury’s multidisciplinary practice creates a system which mends together the relationships divided by history and its crimes against sexualized and racialized bodies and the environment. She gives back joy, desires and existence to those marginalized, amplifying and augmenting the strength of her community.
Her poems, explosions of words and jingles, such as Saint Tree (2021) and scripts and scores from descending notes (2022) resemble the trembling of the body when vibrating by affects and imaginations. From fragments she reconstructs narratives of nature and genres, ecology and eros. In her performances, Lou Lou, like a time traveler, connects points in time and space, transporting her body in nonlinearity, in the realm of reality and fictionality. In pollen spools out, words scatter through a waiting room window (2021) she performs an ecosexual ode to the ways in which human and non-human bodies enter in relationships of solidarity within and outside the pathologized framework of trans medicalisation, a ritual of bonding and belonging for the trans community. In her film Membering the Night Witches (2020), Sainsbury joins her ancestral mothers, portraying her baptism and fertilization within the undercurrents of transness, reanimating vampires as anti-heros and liberators of the selves, suckers for pulsations and beats.
Sainsbury leverages on a world of sensory experiences and political vibrations as an act for eco-social reconciliation. Her works are a productive trickster in probing the realm of possibility where attempting new idioms with other living beings is a generative tool. As oscillators, bodies vibrate, pulse, move rhythmically, change rhythmically, keeping time flowing in motion, and where there is movement there is sound.
Lou Lou Sainsbury is a trans artist based in Margate, UK & Rotterdam, NL, working in live-performance, video, writing, installation and textiles. Recently graduated from the Dutch Art Institute, she was an associate artist at Open School East in 2017 after completing the BA in Moving Image at the University of Brighton in 2016. She was awarded Freelands Gasworks Partnership Programme (2021/22) and has exhibited individually at Gasworks, London (2022) and Well Projects, Margate (2020). Recent performances and group exhibitions include: Whitstable Biennale (2022), Centre for Contemporary Arts Prague (2021); Yaby and La Casa Encendida, Madrid; Nottingham Contemporary; Tate Modern, London; Yaby, Madrid (all 2019); and Flat Time House, London (2018).
Banner: die hippie sunbeam’s fever dream / where the caterpillars feed on the blood drops of dead fascists, my green mountain love, Lou Lou Sainsbury, 2020. Colouring pencil on paper. Courtesy of the artist.
This Contribution was released with the support of Rudolf Augstein Stiftung, Bundesverband Soziokultur, Neustarthilfe, Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.