The theme for Unsound 2020 is Intermission. Meaning a break in a performance or production, here it also refers to the rupture caused by COVID-19, a period starkly separating before from after. The word therefore embodies multiple, and somehow contradictory, forces.
Nobody knows yet if any sizable music events will take place in the autumn, or what form they might take. Even if they do, we have no desire to book and announce artists in the usual way. The extremity of the situation requires a radical, meaningful and creative response, in terms both practical — according to the changing situation — and speculative.
Unsound 2020: Intermission— our 18th edition — will be a festival where the sound of music largely gives way to the sound of speaking and listening. We will focus and expand upon our discourse program, which usually lies alongside the music program, as a space for dialogue, thinking and knowledge; in 2020 it will become the main focus of the festival. The reason: there is much to urgently discuss, not just about music and sound, but about their place and function in the new world that is rapidly taking shape. By October we believe that this need will be even greater. Some of the subjects we would like to explore include music in conditions of lockdown, pandemic and post-pandemic soundscapes, technologies of emergency, the environment, and new forms of power. Others we realise we cannot yet foresee.
Involving presentations, performative lectures, interviews and discussions, this program will be streamed live, as well as archived online. We will include artists, musicians, writers, theorists, activists, scientists and others, responding to the new reality we now inhabit and must respond to, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. How can we fight for a stake in the future of the post-pandemic world? As far as music-focused performances go, we are deciding how and where to include them, according to the unfolding situation and what might work online.