Festival Focus

Sonic Acts Biennial 2024

February 2nd - March 24th

Photo of TRANCE by C.G. Watkins.
Photo of Michel Waiswisz, courtesy of the Michel Waisvisz Archive.

This year marks Sonic Acts 30th anniversary, themed The Spell of the Sensuous. Congrats! All across Amsterdam, from February until March, Sonic Acts Biennial 2024: The Spell of the Sensuous will present “an exhibition, a multichannel sound programme, club nights, large theatrical productions, a symposium, film programmes, sound and video installations, sound and field walks, workshops and more.” To give you some guidance in this beautiful rabbit hole of experimental arts, we figured we’d highlight some sections that sticks out to us. Explore the full program here.

Spatial Sound Platform

Art, technology and innovation meet in the glass pavilion in Amstelpark. Throughout the biennial, in ‘Zone2Source’, Sonic Acts will host their Spatial Sound Platform. In live performances, workshops and installations listeners are challenged to re(de)fine their perception of spatial sound. The program is described as a ‘living exhibition’. You can have a seat, lay-down or listen while being in motion. You’re invited to re-visit, re-listen and re-think, or tune back in online. Aside from the concerts and talks, Zone2Source will host The Listening Room in the weekends. On a 8.2-channel sound system, series of works (new and old) from the Sonic Acts sound library will be presented—of which a section had been curated in collaboration with INA GRM. What can you hear? Works and performances by Luc FerrariIannis XenakisBeatriz FerreyraFlora Yin Wong, François J. Bonnet, KMRU, Felicity Mangan, Annea Lockwood, Hildegard Westerkamp, Jana Winderen, Farzané & Arash Akbari, Clara de Asis & Rebecca Lane, Casimir Geelhoed and many more. Get familiar here.


Oh gosh. Talking about scale, ambition and spectacle for this one. TRANCE is a 6-chapter multidisciplinary performance, which lasts half a day. “Somewhere between a rock concert, an underground rave, an immersive theatre production, and an otherworldly cinematic experiment, for TRANCE, visionary contemporary artist Tianzhuo Chen, the director of Asian Dope Boys, presents a synthesis of his work from the past decade.” Over the course of its colossal duration, narration evolves, reality is stretched and new states are reached. To get a taste of what’s coming: the floor of Paradiso will be covered in real grass and the performance includes an enormous sculpture of ‘micro-animal’ tardigrade, dangling from the ceiling. the 12-hour-long extravaganza includes a sprawling ensemble cast of international musicians and performers such as ¥ØU$UK€ ¥UK1MAT$UDis FigKIM KHANYlva FalkKasimyn and Ican Harem (Gabber Modus Operandi).” Explore TRANCE here.

Expanded Experience

On February 24th, at the heart of the biennial, Sonic Acts will present a string of performances in the brutalist yet elegant Muziekgebouw. Renowned artists present brand new work and team up. Ina GRM director Kassel Jaeger is joined by filmmaker Eléonore Huisse. Sarah Davachi has developed a new piece together with Ï Î (Lukas De Clerck & Victor Guaita Igual). Visual alchemist Sevi Iko Dømochevsky and musician Aho Ssan recontextualise Ssan’s latest industrial collage-like album Rhizomes into an audiovisual format. Marcin Pietruszewski showcases his generative installation on the Fokker organ. And, lastly, Hugo Esquinca and Russell Haswell present the fourth edition of Cadáver Exquisito, a work premised on the technique of collective assembly. Muziekgebouw will be filled to the brim. Read more here.

Michel Waisvisz Project

In celebration of their anniversary, Sonic Acts launches a long-term heritage project focused on one of the key figures of Amsterdam’s experimental music scene: composer, instrument-inventor and former STEIM director Michel Waisvisz (1949-2008). Tarek Atoui, in collaboration with Kristina Andersen, who both had personal relationships with Waisvisz, will reverberate his legacy and aim to ignite new forms of experimentation in the shape of new instruments, conversations, lectures, workshops, and performances. Do yourself a favor and explore some of Waivisz’s past works, such as The Crackle Box (1974) and The Crackle Synth (1974)—involving bodily movements as means of creating music and sound. The Michel Waisvisz project will involve the presentation of new instruments, talks, a masterclass and a concert, all taking place in BIMHUIS. More info here.

Club Nights

At the bookends of the biennial, Sonic Acts opens and closes their anniversary with a bang. Three club nights, in Kanaal40, OT301 and Garage Noord. On the opening day, February 2nd, Sonic Acts invites “a roster of DJs bridging the gap between underground and mainstream” with Jessica Nightlife, Millie Rose Dobree, Money Lang and Ingrate. On February 9th, Sonic Acts resides in the former squat OT301 for a hybrid night of DJ sets and live performances: from industrial to psychedelic and back. With EleftheriaPrison Religionaircode, RABIT, M.E.S.H. and aya. And finally, Sonic Act goes all-out on two stages at Garage Noord on February 23rd. “A full-throttle club night going on until the early hours.” With SHALT, Ship Sket, KABLAM, ZULI, Bapari, MISFYA, Zgjim, baby ganoush, Low End Activist, BEARCAT and, YOZY. Get more info here.

Explore the full program of Sonic Acts Biennial 2024 here. The people of Sonic Acts have been kind enough to give some free tickets to Subbacultcha members for some parts of the program. Learn more here. Not a member? Sign up here.