Podcast: Caitlin Franzmann on listening and slowness


When Caitlin Franzmann discusses the larger ideals behind her art practice, she mentions the ambition of “invoking what is bigger than ourselves.” While this aspiration shows itself in different ways, it often revolves around questions of social connection, listening and intimacy. In our podcast conversation Franzmann discusses these sensibilities in her work, while also touching upon her latest installation and sound work in Material Sound.

Showing at Maitland Regional Gallery and curated by Caleb Kelly, Material Sound does as its name suggests; it thinks about the widely varying material aspects of sound.

This may be through handmade instruments, aspects of technology or dynamic installations. Likewise, Franzmann’s practice has continuously looked at sound as a material, physical and social thing. “I can’t avoid the material aspects; it just is present,” says the artist. “The social aspect of sound is something that I’m particularly interested in and that’s where all of these ideas of conversations and intimacy [come from].”

Caitlin Franzmann, Tree-telling, Liquid Architecture, MPavilion 2018. Photo by Jacqui Shelton.

Franzmann’s contribution to Material Sound comes in the form of a round glass table. It entices viewers, through vibration and light, to press their ears to the table and listen to the sound work that is being emitted. As Franzmann explains, “The sound work is a collage of found sounds, so it’s a mix of comedians, scientists, spiritual gurus and even ritual chanting, and they all touch on this idea of energetic exchange, magnetism and this choice that we all have of whether we choose to live our life in fear or with love.”

Franzmann’s consideration of intimacy, slowness and contemplation have further led her to explore outside the gallery space.

Most notably the artist has performed three years in a row at MPavilion, as part of Liquid Architecture, to present Tree-telling. In this project the artist has one-on-one conversations with people. Each person she meets chooses a hand-crafted divination card, which shows one of the seven trees in the Queen Victoria Gardens surrounding the MPavilion site, before taking part in an audio walk. “Rather than it being solely about this moment of self-reflection and going inward, it is more about considering the world that we’re within; our environment and that we exist within this bigger realm,” explains Franzmann.

Caitlin Franzmann, Drawn Together, Held Apart, 2018. Material Sounds at Murray Art Museum Albury.

In this way the artist looks at the fluid links between spirituality, ritual practices, and contemporary art. She discusses these ideas throughout the conversation, and explains how the two sensibilities of slowness and intimacy infuse her work, at both a personal and collective level.

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Material Sound
Maitland Regional Gallery
10 September – 27 November 2022

Podcast Words by Tiarney Miekus