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Lottie Sadd: in the beginning will be listening

Lottie Sadd (she/her) is an interdisciplinary composer-performer who creates immersive sonic performances and installations. In her work, Sadd invites audiences to step outside of an object-centric art experience and into dynamic processes, often using improvisation, field recordings and text. Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sadd’s practice has focused on the voice – through verbal language and other non-verbal and bodily communication – in response to feminist mythologies of women as sirens, Medusas and witches. In addressing the historical and contemporary persecution of the ‘other’, the unsettling results of Sadd’s practice resonate with the tumultuousness of today’s pandemic world.

For her PANIC! project, Sadd has worked with language, exploring how a new (post-)pandemic lexicon might be created and understood. Through workshops and a call for words, Sadd has generated and collected words and phrases and feelings we associate with the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving beyond the limitations of language by thinking primarily through sound, Sadd asked participants to create new words and meanings which more intuitively reflect and resonate with our individual and collective experiences of pandemic-living.

Presented here is a non-chronological collection of exercises composed from the material gathered by Sadd. The video works – mouthfuls – show a closely intimate performance of Sadd mouthing, uttering and tasting a selection of the new words created in the workshops and with a programming patch used to manipulate audio, created on Max/msp and developed specifically for her project. Material gathered from the call for words is expressed through an electroacoustic composition in which words blur and slip between sound and meaning. Photographs from the workshops show collaborative ‘tapestries’ of language which trace the creation of new words through their etymological roots.

Through these exercises, Sadd examines how we connect with and are understood by others, re-imagining conventional communication and calling for new approaches in light of the uprooting of ‘normality’ caused by the pandemic.

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Lottie Sadd
a roll of brown paper falls vertically into the landscape image and folds into the right of the image. The paper is covered in words written in different sizes and styles, including ‘agitated’ and ‘sinking’
7 pieces of paper containing hand written notes with timestamps and letters assembled into rows. The letters create undistinguishable words, including ‘skrrksss’ and ‘dtt dtt dtt’
Lottie Sadd
Lottie Sadd

With thanks to…

Bella Probyn and Jenny Handley for their truly invaluable support throughout my work on this project.

Everyone who attended the workshops and who submitted responses to the call for words – whatever your experiences of living through the pandemic, it’s a vulnerable thing to share and I am hugely grateful you felt open to doing that with me.

And finally, to Jack C, Mia W, Oliver T, Matthew G, and Adam A who all gave their time and knowledge to help me with Max/msp. A special, huge thanks to Jack M-P for his absurdly rapid, effective Max-patch creation and regular skype-call help despite living all those time-zones away.

Discover the other PANIC! bursary artists

This work is presented as part of the PANIC! (Promoting an Artists’ Network in the Crisis) series of bursaries.

Earlier this year, PANIC! awarded a group of artists in Leeds City Region £5,000 and £1,000 bursaries to support the making of a new contemporary visual artwork or project. The bursaries offered space to create a voice and help us think through the new psychological, social and cultural conditions we face today.

You can find the work of artists Edd Carr, Charlotte Cullen, Tyvin Haque, ROMA, Nikta Mohammadi, and Mathew Wayne Parkin here.

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