The Sanatorium of Sound is a festival dedicated to experimental contemporary music and the broad spectrum of sound art. Its main aim is to present the widest possible range of phenomena related to the development of musical forms in the 20th and 21st centuries. Thus far, the festival has showcased works by approximately 250 artists from around the world, many of which were created specifically in the context of the place during artistic residencies in Sokołowsko.
The Sanatorium of Sound Festival is not only about concerts but also a series of projects on the border between sound art and performance. It includes educational workshops, panel discussions, and projects dedicated specifically to this event, such as compositional commissions, artistic residencies, and curatorial practices related to the ecology of sound, architecture, nature, and medicine, created by musicians, composers, interdisciplinary creators, experts, theorists, scientists, and sound artists. The festival takes place in several locations in Sokołowsko, including the Zdrowie Cinema-Theatre, the Multimedia Hall, the Spa Park, and the ruins of a 19th-century sanatorium. The festival annually gathers around 1000 participants from around the world, attracting a unique, multi-generational audience. The festival is led by Zuzanna Fogtt and Gerard Lebik.
The Sanatorium of Sound Festival is organized by the In Situ Foundation for Contemporary Art in Sokołowsko. The main goal of the foundation is to create and maintain a space for art, education, and interdisciplinary creative processes. Since 2007, the foundation has been promoting activities in the field of international heritage dedicated to contemporary art and culture, with a particular emphasis on music, sound, visual art, performance, and film. In Situ organizes various cultural events, such as the Sokolowsko Film Festival Hommage à Kieslowski, Contexts-International Festival of Ephemeral Arts, Sanatorium of Sound, and since 2017, has been managing the archives of Krzysztof Kieślowski.
The Sanatorium of Sound Festival has been held since 2014 in Sokołowsko, a picturesque mountain village on the border of Poland and the Czech Republic. Sokołowsko is an extraordinary place on the map of Poland, where Dr. Hermann Brehmer once established the world's first specialized health resort and sanatorium for pulmonary diseases, serving as a prototype for the famous Swiss Davos. Currently, the 19th-century neo-Gothic building designed by the renowned Jewish architect Edwin Oppler is the seat of the "Laboratorium Kultury" created by the In Situ Foundation for Contemporary Art.
The Sanatorium of Sound Festival has been supported and cooperated with cultural institutions in Poland and abroad, including the EEA, the Ministry of Funds and Regional Policy, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, Pro Helvetia, Kultur Des Bundes, the Polish-German Foundation, Fond Podium Kunsten, Polish institutes abroad, and independent NGOs, organizing events such as the Sanatorium of Sound Festival in Sokołowsko (2015-2023), Polish experimental music in Scandinavia (2015-2016), Polish Musical Avant-garde of the 20th century in Western Europe (2018-2019), and HILO - Polish-Norwegian Platform for New Music Development 2022-2024.
Every year, the Sanatorium of Sound focuses on a different theme, adapting the program of the current edition to the main idea of the festival.
"Time. Futurism. Revisions." is the theme of the 9th edition of the Sanatorium of Sound. The program of this edition of the festival also includes projects initiated by HILO - Norwegian-Polish Platform for New Music Development - a platform created for collaboration between Polish and Norwegian artists, curators, educators, and organizers working in the field of contemporary music. A special event was the opening concert at the Zdrowie Cinema-Theatre, during which new compositions written specifically for The Orchestra of Futurist Noise Intoners were performed. The sixteen-member ensemble, led by Italian composer Luciano Chessa, played replicas of experimental instruments designed by Luigi Russolo (known as intonarumori). In collaboration with the Performa Biennial in New York, the Intonarumori Orchestra (16 instruments) was brought to this occasion from New York. This concert took place on the 110th anniversary of the publication of the Art of Noise manifesto, and compositional commissions were realized by artists such as Luciano Chessa, Klaus Holm, John Hegre, Jon Wesseltoft, Mike McCormick, Guoste Tamulynaite, Magdaléna Manderlová, Mariam Gviniashvili, Martyna Kosecka, Teoniki Rożynek, Aleksandra Słyż, Martyna Poznańska, Piotr Peszat, Jacek Sotomski, Zosia Hołubowska, Gerard Lebik, and Marek Chołoniewski. Additionally, the festival featured artists such as Oren Ambarchi, Robert Piotrowicz, Valerio Tricoli, crys cole, Jenny Pickett, Julien Ottavi, LAI Tsung Yun, Lucia H Chung, YAN Sheng Wen, Lucia H Chung, Ursula Sereghy, Michal Kindernay, Aestum, hermeneia, julek ploski, Avtomat, and Sara Persico.
The theme of the 8th edition of the Sanatorium of Sound festival was one of the most indefinite concepts - time. Various aspects of time were explored, attempting to understand the complexity of this issue. Priority was given to issues of transience and timelessness. These are two aspects of time that permeate and complement each other. Due to the fact that they condition each other, they can be considered as two faces of human finitude, like obverse and reverse. In everyday life, we find ourselves between Heraclitus and Parmenides: with one eye we watch the passing time, with the other eternity. It seems that we cannot explain what is variable without referring it to what is constant. We cannot talk about duration without imagining that it bears the seal of a certain kind of immutability. We cannot even talk about time without thinking about eternity, and vice versa. During this year's edition of the Sanatorium of Sound festival, an attempt was made to momentarily stop time and examine it carefully.
Artists in 2022 included Catherine Lamb, Rebecca Lane, Emilio Gordoa, Burkhard Beins, Jérôme Noetinger, Bakbilvv, Xavier Lopez, Sylwia Żytyńska, Katarina Gryvul, Carsten Stabenov, Björn Erlach, Wacław Szpakowski, Bastian Pfefferli, Charlie, Bryan Eubanks, Hermeneia, Andrew Lafkas, Martyna Basta, Antonina Nowacka, Ryo Ikeshiro, Jan Moss, Paweł Romańczuk, Lena Czerniawska, Biuro Dźwięku Katowice, Todd Capp, Derek Shirley, Sacred Realism, Mario de Vega, Canti Spazializzati Collective, and Paweł Szroniak.
The 2021 edition of the festival aimed to prove that a return to normalcy was the only solution and the main priority, and that we were unable to function without real contact with art In Situ. The Sanatorium of Sound was a festival whose greatest value was presenting sound art and all new experimental forms in the context of a spa town located in the middle Sudetes. The context of the mountain landscape surrounding Sokołowsko, the post-German 19th-century architecture, and the magnificent air have always been integral attributes during concerts, exhibitions, and all reflections on new trends in contemporary music. It could not have been otherwise. We hoped that the global crisis was behind us and that this year we would meet again, close to nature, close to music, close to each other. We were returning to normalcy.
The program of the 2021 edition was not limited to one curatorial thought. We wanted to speak out on many important issues concerning the present. We could not remain indifferent to the events of the past year related to the pandemic; in this context, however, we wanted to focus on the search for new methods of sound therapy, thus continuing the Musica Sanae project from 2019. The political situation in our country was also a very inspiring issue; the artists invited to this year's edition were asked for a brief artistic comment on this matter. And finally, ecology, an undeniable, current topic concerning our future. By creating a program addressing these important issues, we ensured that everything was done without dramatizing and over-conceptualizing, and that the balance between intellectual reflection and pleasant time spent with music in the mountains was the main assumption of our festival from the beginning.
Artists included Aleksandra Słyż, Biliana Voutchkova, Burkhard Beins, Central European Network for Sonic Ecologies, From Scratch New Discantus Quintet, Edka Jarząb, Hugo Esquinca, Joanna Halszka Sokołowska, Justyna Banaszczyk, Katarzyna Podpora, Lubomir Grzelak, Mario de Vega, Max Kohyt, Peter Ablinger, Sebastian Cichocki, Tatiana Heuman aka QEEI, Thomas Lehn, Tim Shaw, and Wojciech Kucharczyk.
In 2019, in collaboration with Phonurgia (Naples, Italy) and NK Projekt (Berlin, Germany), the Sanatorium was presented as MUSICA SANAE, curated by Michał Libera. MUSICA SANAE is a research-based artistic project dedicated to sound and medicine.
The term 'Musica Medica' may sound not only like the name of a series of events but also like a promise - a promise of "healthy" music; safe, sober, and balanced music, and even music that heals. Especially when it takes place inside sanatoriums and hospitals. Since the beginning of modernity, music and medicine have created a strange feedback loop together. The ground on which this happens is listening - the subject of laryngological research as well as the field of experiencing music. What connects them in recent centuries is, paradoxically, a fundamental disbelief in the ear and its cognitive powers as a tool of hearing. This doubt paved the way for many medical inquiries, laryngological studies, and later telecommunications, sound reproduction, surveillance, and eavesdropping, and finally - sound art. This doubt is behind the invention of the stethoscope (Rene Laennec) and the use of percussion techniques in laryngeal examination (Leopold Auenbruger) - the desire to hear more, to hear the smallest sound, to hear what is inaudible, and even completely silent, like lung tumors or bacteria in the throat. On the other hand, medicine has flourished over the past two hundred years also due to the development of knowledge about sound. The invention and popularization of tuning forks and simple tones quickly led to their widespread use in medicine. Firstly, they became therapeutic tools. Their use combines, among other things, methods of treating hysteria at the famous French hospital Salpêtrière, with today's sonopuncture practices responding to vaguely defined stresses and tensions. Secondly, sound quickly proved to be an excellent diagnostic tool, with ultrasound being only the most famous example.
During the course of this centuries-long feedback loop, our listening has irreversibly changed. We hear more, we have tools and technologies that do it for us. We have developed new skills, and we have mobilized other parts of the body to expand how we listen. We can also translate sound into other media; we can even sonify fundamentally silent entities, only vibrating. In the end, it seems that the more we hear, the more there is to hear. Or even - the more we hear, the larger the area of what is unheard becomes. Unheard, unknown, and mysterious, yet potential; perhaps in the future, under certain conditions and using new technologies - audible. Isn't this endless desire precisely the most important psycho-laryngological disorder of modernity?
More than an attempt to cure it, it is Musica Medica, and primarily its sanctuary. Dozens of musicians, artists, researchers, and theorists have accepted an invitation to present their inquiries in the gray area between medicine and sound, science and speculation, faith and mysticism. Some will use medical tools for this purpose; others will resort to various therapeutic methods; they will show diseases from the perspective of sound and specific patients who struggled with sound; viruses will be subjected to sonification, and famous modern hallucinations - reproduction. And all this in a place linked to the history of medicine - Sokołowsko.
Artists included: Peter Abliger, Felicia Atkinson, Tiziana Bertoncini, Luciano Chessa, Rudolf Eb.er, Les énérves, Hacklander/Hatam, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Gerard Lebik, Barbara Kinga Majewska & Tony di Napoli, Maria della Morte, Anthony Pateras, Seppo Renvall & Aspec(t), and Testcard.
Sanatorium Sound 2018 focused on radio art and sound performance, addressing the issue of sound in defined and undefined spaces.
Artists included: Rasha Ragab, Christoph Nicolaus, Peter Rehberg, Takahiro Kawaguchi, Oramics, Martyna Poznańska, Ute Wassermann, Lee Patterson, Aki Onda, Keith Rowe, Izabela Smelczyńska, Valerio Tricoli, Teoniki Rożynek, Michał Libera, L’tronica Festival, Sébastien Branche, Mikko Savela, Monika Zyla, D’inise, Cyril Bondi, Gerard Lebik, Maryanne Amacher, Lucio Capece, Maciej Ożóg, Paweł Romańczuk, Kondensator Przepływu, Mariusz Knysak, Matěj Frank, Daniel Brożek, Lukaś Jirićka, Zuzanna Fogtt, Paweł Szroniak, Kama Sokolnicka, Wilhelm Bras, Tomasz Opania, Agnes Martin, Knut Aufermann, Sarah Washington, GRINM, Jan Topolski, Filip Lech
Another session at the Sokołowsko sanatorium was marked by innovative treatments with cold and hot sounds, stones, and sticks, both indoors and outdoors. Dry Mountain Orchestra, led by Keith Rowe and Gerard Lebik, tackled Christian Wolff's conceptual scores, seeking a key to contemporary interpretation of experimental music. Sanatory17 – an exhibition programmed by Viennese artists Klaus Filip and Noid – showcased contemporary trends in European sound art. Curator Michał Libera presented the Cinema Surroundings program, focusing on the sound in cinema and its problematic status. Sanatorium Sound was a festival dedicated to contemporary music and sound art organized by the In Situ Foundation led by Zuzanna Fogtt in Sokołowsko. Its main goal was to present phenomena and trends of the 20th and 21st centuries, maintaining a balance between the traditions of experimental art and new, not yet fully defined tendencies. The program of this year's edition was based on several pillars, between which there was a tangle of ladders, sails, and lines, enabling the most daring transitions and knots for the seasoned audience.
One of the pillars of this year's edition was undoubtedly Sanatory17, a review of the latest sound art often related to location and resulting from a series of studio visits organized before the festival in cooperation with the Wrocław 2016 Office as part of the Artist Residency Program AIR Wro. Ryoko Akama in the ruins of the former Brehmer Sanatorium presented her sound installation Objects Migration 01, dedicated to this extraordinary place, and Julien Ottavi in It Lives on a Farm sonified the plants themselves and their electrical activity using specially processed piezoelectric cells, while in Ghost Hunter he tried to capture elusive sounds. Ulla Rauter in TACET sought silence in the urban noise, and in façade scan, she translated the textures of the wall into scores. Ute Wassermann's Imaginary Habitat is a whole ecosystem of resonating objects on speaker membranes, while Tuning by Boris Baltschun and Serge Baghdassarians collided video with a balloon and a constant tone with a glissando in the sanatorium ruins. Finally, Christine Schörkhuber tackled the pressing issue of migration and relocation in We Arrived on the Dark Side of Europe: The Tents of Idomeni, an installation based on tents with a sound narrative. All these works revisit the themes of silence or omission, sounds and voices unheard or unheard, but also the relationship between object, image, and sound, which constitutes a line thrown to the neighboring mast of the program.
Another pillar of Sanatorium Sound was the film thread, with the pretext provided by the recently fully revived Zdrowie Cinema. Cinema Surroundings is a program consisting of three loosely related events, united by the sound in cinema and its problematic status. Michał Libera and Barbara Kinga Majewska's Emphysema was based on Franz Kafka's last novella, Josephine the Singer, or the Mouse Folk, and sanatorium cases of tuberculosis. Łukasz Jastrubczak and Henryk Zastróżny played tapers playing to a nonexistent film, referring to Walter Ruttmann's famous experiment Weekend. Meanwhile, Hilary Jeffery, Giedon Kiers, and Zsolt Sőrés in Inconsolable Ghost – Sokołowsko Channelling tried to redefine the concept of "expanded cinema" through occultism and paranormal phenomena. Also, Piotr Tkacz in his Cinema of Memory returned to the history of the Zdrowie Cinema and Sokołowska in the form of a three-channel installation. Alfredo Costa Monteirio mixed soundtracks from 70 films by directors from Eastern Bloc countries in Fragments of an Unfinished Tale (A Cinematic Story), and Daniel Muzyczuk conducted an analysis of classic experiments by Ken Jacobs and Michael Snow.
Finally, cinema is the fusion of image and sound, optical illusion, the magic of light and movement, so it is not surprising that the relationship between audio and video is another important point of this edition of the festival's program. Phil Niblock mixed his field recordings in a duet with an improvised montage of clips, curated by Katherine Liberovskaya. Noid and Klaus Filip in their Photophonie revived pioneering experiments with optosonic synthesizers from the DIY era. Another audiovisual duo was Saturn 3, juxtaposing Łukasz Szałankiewicz's electromagnetic music and Arthur Donovan's acoustic machines. Among the actions on the border between installation and concert was Lucio Capece, who returned to the park late at night, as at last year's Sanatorium Sound. This time by the pond, between after-parties and dawn, he presented the minimalist A Perceptual Ecosystem with sinusoidal waves and strobe lights, stimulated by the movements of the audience. Meanwhile, Marek Chołoniewski used the movements of thoughts, i.e., brain waves, to control his audiovisual performance Cymatic Brain.
This year's festival also included concerts, although this form was usually questioned or exceeded. Like Alfredo Costa Monteiro, who performed an eight-hour, all-night performance A Halo of Light Surrounded by Darkness or Marcin Barski in his radio project Dream of Wanda. One of the highlights was the performance of the duo of two legends of free improv, John Tilbury on piano and Keith Rowe on amplified guitar and other objects. The latter, along with the festival curator Gerard Lebik, performed as the leader of the Dry Mountain Orchestra composed of musicians present at the festival. Together they interpreted Christian Wolff's open scores: Sticks, Stones, and Edges, which fits into Sokołowsko's returns to the traditions of experimental music. A link between musical and visual activity of the festival organizer (International Cultural Laboratory) was the exhibition of Rowe's graphics inspired by Wolff's notation. Meanwhile, Julia Eckhardt played Eliane Radigue's OCCAM IV on viola, co-created in numerous sessions with the master herself. The thread of continuous deconstruction, negotiation, and canon-building was continued in morning lectures and panel discussions: Daniel Brożek spoke about the tradition of sound art, and Jan Topolski about electronic music in former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. And everything could be thought of and forgotten during triggering night after-parties, with musical accompaniment provided by DJ Dwie Lewe Ręce, DJ Morgiana (for stuffiness), and Bartosz Zaskórski (Pointless Geometry).
For the third time, the Wrocław 2016 Office, together with the In Situ Foundation for Contemporary Art, as part of the AIR Wro Artistic Residency Program, invited sound artists for studio visits to Sokołowsko. A-i-R Sanatorium Sound Sokołowsko is a residency program established in March 2016 for composers, improvisers, and musicians who present the results of their work as part of the Sanatorium Sound Festival in Sokołowsko. In 2016, the In Situ Foundation for Contemporary Art, together with the AIR Wro Artistic Residency Program, invited eight artists working at the intersection of music, new media, and performance (including Martin Howse, Keith Rowe, Mario de Vega, Alessandro Bosetti). This year, they were Ryoko Akama, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Klaus Filip, and Noid, and their works were presented as part of the Sanatorium Sound Festival.
Text: Jan Topolski
The Sanatorium of Sound 2016 program was designed to develop multi-threadedly, revolving around several main themes, including: exploration in the field of musical notation, relationships between composition and improvisation, the use of the potential of place, and the perception of sound space. Festival activities included concerts, installations, lectures, panel discussions, and presentations. Among the special events in this year's edition of the Sanatorium of Sound were concerts by the Ensemble Phoenix, which performed compositions by Robert Piotrowicz, Kasper Toeplitz, Alex Beuss, and Antoine Chessex. The festival program also included performances by highly regarded musicians such as Bryan Eubanks, Xavier Lopez, Anna Zaradny, Jonas Kocher, Gaudenz Badrutt, Kurt Liedwart, Johnny Chang, Mike Majkowski, Lucio Capece, Gerard Lebik, Emilio Gordoa, presentations of sound installations, lectures, and panel discussions with Brian Olewnick, Michał Libera, Daniel Muzyczuk, Michał Mendyk, Daniel Brożek, as well as book premieres prepared by Paweł Szroniak and Patryk Lichota. This year's edition took place in partnership with the European Capital of Culture Wrocław 2016. As part of the A-i-R Sanatorium of Sound Sokołowsko project, co-organized by the A-i-R Wro Artistic Residency Program, eight residency stays were realized, during which invited artists prepared new works - their final presentations took place at the festival. The participants in this project included: Keith Rowe, Michael Pisaro, Valerio Tricoli, Mario de Vega, Alessandro Bosetti, Martin Howse, Olivia Block, and Stephen Cornford, some of the most important contemporary music and sound art creators worldwide. The A-i-R Wro program was funded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage. Zuzanna Fogtt, Gerard Lebik Artists including: Valerio Tricoli, Mario de Vega, Alessandro Bosetti, Martin Howse, Olivia Block, Michael Pisaro, Stephen Cornford, Keith Rowe, Gerard Lebik, Bryan Eubanks, Mike Majkowski, Anna Zaradny, Lucio Capece, Ensemble Phoenix plays Robert Piotrowicz, Kasper Toeplitz, Alex Beuss, Antoine Chesseex, Kurt Liedwart.
The Sanatorium of Sound 2015 edition will feature Keith Rowe - a stalwart of electroacoustic improvised music (EAI), a virtuoso in guitar preparation, and a co-founder of the famous AMM ensemble. Few creators can boast as rich a legacy as this British performer. For fifty years, he has significantly influenced the development of free improvisation, actively participating in new ventures with the most interesting musicians from around the world. Keith Rowe's performance was part of a two-week residency at the Sokolowsko Cultural Laboratory. A significant achievement, specially prepared for the Sanatorium of Sound, was the first Polish performance of three compositions by Iannis Xenakis: La Legende d'Eer, Bohor, and Persepolis pt. II. The pieces were presented in the spa park area by Kasper T. Toeplitz, Gerard Lebik, and a group of percussionists.
To familiarize the audience with the evolutionary processes in experimental music, creators from the middle and younger generations representing the most important artistic centers in Europe were invited to participate in the event. Concerts by Axel Dörner, Burkhard Beins, Michael Renkel, Magda Mayas, and Tony Buck (an Australian percussionist living in Berlin for years) provided an opportunity to explore the latest developments in Germany. The Austrian scene was represented by Noid, Matija Schellander, and Klaus Filip, while the French scene featured Jérôme Noetinger, Tomoko Sauvage, Marc Baron, and Kasper T. Toeplitz. Also appearing were Scandinavian free jazz stars Lotte Anker, Raymond Strid, and Per Zanussi, Portuguese percussionist Gabriel Ferrandini known from Red Trio, as well as the radical Swiss composer-conceptualist Manfred Werder, a key figure associated with the Wandelweiser group. The festival also included leading Polish creators of experimental music such as Robert Piotrowicz, Piotr Damasiewicz, Gerard Lebik, Krzysztof Topolski, and Patryk Lichota.
Sanatorium of Sound 2015 was not just about stage events. An important element of the program was educational activities aimed at initiating important discussions, building community ties, and shaping the musical awareness of the audience. These were carried out in three ways: over the weekend, there were meetings with the founders of renowned record labels (Erstwhile, Absinth, Bołt, Bocian, and Mikroton); lectures and panel sessions with leading music curators and critics, complemented by a special film block dedicated to selected aspects of sound art.
Sanatorium of Sound 2015 showcased a new form of improvised music, noise, contemporary classical, electroacoustic, and sound art.