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Anna Bunting-Branch Aliyah Hussain
Potential Wor(l)ds


Potential Wor(l)ds is a collaborative project between artists Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain, drawing on shared interests in feminist science fiction, embodied processes of making, and different ways of worldbuilding. 

The workshop begins with an introduction to Láadan, a feminist language created by linguist and science-fiction writer Suzette Haden Elgin in 1984. Finding herself unable to express certain ideas and emotions in English, Elgin intended Láadan to make space for new words and ways of communicating. For Elgin, the idea of gaps in language offers a place to start creating change. She called these gaps potential words’. Her experiment tested the hypothesis that there are changes you could not introduce into a language without destroying it and languages you could not introduce into a culture without destroying it,’ and that change in language brings about social change, rather than the contrary.’

The idea of these potential wor(l)ds forms the basis of this workshop, where participants experiment with contact mics, found objects, drawing and our own bodies to create a collective vocabulary. The workshop moves away from dominant ways of communicating to explore more experimental, collaborative modes of expression, using gesture, mark-making and sound in order to try to feel what is being communicated as well as what cannot yet be said.

Material from this workshop will be added to the Potential Wor(l)ds dictionary, an online archive documenting previous workshops in Bergen, Brighton and Liverpool. 

Questions, suggestions and provocations are welcome. As the philosopher Luce Irigaray (herself an inspiration for the Láadan experiment) tells us: If we keep on speaking the same language together, we’re going to reproduce the same history. Begin the same stories again. Don’t you think so?’ 

The workshop is a co-production of Sonic Acts & Paradiso and part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

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Anna Bunting-Branch is an artist and researcher based in London. Moving between different practices including painting, writing and animation her work explores science fiction as a methodology to re-vision feminist practice and its histories. Recently she has had solo presentations at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge (2018) and Jerwood Space, London (2017). She is included in the 2019 publication Fandom as Methodology and presented work in Witchy Methodologies at Institute of Contemporary Arts, London in 2017. She is currently undertaking a practice-related PhD at Slade School of Fine Art, University College London.


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Aliyah Hussain’s practice approaches themes found within feminist science-fiction literature, and her work moves across sound, ceramic sculpture, drawing and collage. With a background in performance and an interest in process and material, her sound works are created with contact mics and sculptural objects, incorporating drawing, gesture, pressure and tension. Based at Islington Mill in Salford, UK, she has worked with experimental music labels Sacred Tapes and Bloxham Tapes to release three EPs of ambient electronic music that were created as soundtracks to accompany FSF short stories and novels. She has performed and shown work at HOME, Manchester and Bergen Kunsthall among others. Recent projects include a commission by artist Anna Bunting-Branch to create a soundtrack for her VR work META (2018), which has been shown at Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge and FACT, Liverpool.


Potential Wor(l)ds. Photo by Thor Brødreskift.

To express your interest in joining the workshop, taking place on 19 February in Amsterdam, please send a short motivation to workshop[at]sonicacts[dot]com. Applications will close on 8 February.

Participants pay a contribution of €20 for the workshop led by Anna Bunting-Branch and Aliyah Hussain. Lunch is included.