Sound Gallery: Crystals of this Social Substance by Jay Bernard
For this episode of Sound Gallery, eight young South Londoners met with Jay Bernard to discuss money and how it impacts their lives.
Sound Gallery is a new podcast series made up of artists’ audio commissions which ask to listen actively and consider how we navigate the world. The first four Sound Gallery commissions were part of a public listening and events programme at the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Sumayya Vally of Counterspace. Crystals of this Social Substance is a 41-minute original sound work by artist Jay Bernard, commissioned by Serpentine Education for Listening to the City: a 2021 Pavilion programme that engaged with many lived experiences and sonic landscapes of London neighbourhoods.
Jay Bernard developed Crystals of this Social Substance through a series of intimate workshops, staged during summer 2021. For these, eight young people were invited into a conversation that revolved around class, economics and inequality. All participants grew up or were living in the specific triangle of London’s Tulse Hill, Brixton and Herne Hill neighbourhoods – an area the artist situates as “a curious mix of deprivation and hyper-privilege.” In Crystals of this Social Substance, we hear the young people search for the the language to articulate their personal relationships to money and grapple with how and why it is unevenly distributed across the city.
For each of the commissions within Sound Gallery, Serpentine has worked with a sound artist to commission a written sonic description. For Jay Bernard’s Crystals of this Social Substance, Kerry Hudson has written a text-based translation of the piece.
Click the box below to download this as a PDF.
The sonic descriptions are part of ongoing research into how our programme can be more accessible to D/deaf and low hearing audiences. Research is conducted within Serpentine’s Access Working Group.
Crystals of this Social Substance: the conversation
On 23 July 2021, Jay Bernard hosted a live conversation around Crystals of this Social Substance at the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion. Contributors included Jay Bernard, Lola Olufemi, Marijam Didžgalvytė and Mijke van der Drift. Each participant was invited to present a proposition for a game about money in the 21st century, as a way to open up an imaginative discussion about our present economic reality and possible alternative futures. Following the conversation, Bernard’s audio work was premiered inside the Serpentine Pavilion.
You can watch an extract of the event recording with BSL interpretation and captioning below, and find out more about the live event here.
About Jay Bernard
Jay Bernard is an artist from London whose work is interdisciplinary, critical, queer and rooted in the archives. As well as being a film programmer at BFI Flare, they were named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year 2020 and winner of the 2017 Ted Hughes Award for Surge: Side A, a cross-disciplinary exploration of the New Cross Fire in 1981. Jay’s short film Something Said has screened in the UK and internationally, including Aesthetica and Leeds International Film Festival (where it won best experimental and best queer short respectively), Sheffield DocFest and CinemAfrica. Recent work includes My Name is My Own, a physical performance piece in response to June Jordan, which premiered at Southbank Centre’s Poetry International.
About Kerry Hudson
Kerry Hudson was born in Aberdeen. Her first novel, TONY HOGAN BOUGHT ME AN ICE-CREAM FLOAT BEFORE HE STOLE MY MA was published in 2012 by Chatto & Windus (Penguin Random House) and was the winner of the Scottish First Book Award. Her latest book and memoir, LOWBORN, takes her back to the towns of her childhood as she investigates her own past and what it means to be poor in Britain today. It was a Radio 4 Book of the Week, a Guardian and Independent Book of the Year. Kerry founded The WoMentoring Project and Breakthrough Festival, and she was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2020.
Sound Work Credits
Jay Bernard, Crystals of this Social Substance, 2021 was commissioned by Serpentine Education, curated by Alex Thorp, Jemma Egan, and Ben Messih, and produced by Holly Shuttleworth. The work was edited by Griff Hewis with original composition by Femi Oriogun-Williams.
The work was developed with young people from Alleyn’s School, The Baytree Centre, Brixton Youth Theatre, Dulwich College, High Trees Community Development Trust, and ML Community Enterprise. The young people were paid for their time.
Workshops were held at Impact Brixton and Glows Tulse Hill.
Event Film Credits
Crystals of this Social Substance: the conversation was commissioned by Serpentine Education for Listening to the City at the 2021 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Sumayya Vally of Counterspace. The event was curated by Alex Thorp, Ben Messih and Jemma Egan, and was produced by Holly Shuttleworth.
Sound commissions supported by L-Acoustics Creations, presented in L-ISA Immersive Hyperreal Sound.
Filmed by this is tomorrow. BSL interpretation by Clifton Deaf Services.