Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Contemporary Art

First Advisor

Aliza Shvarts

Second Advisor

Morgan Falconer


From Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological perspective to Derridean postructuralist view, to an intersectional force traversing somatic, social, political, and cultural, sound, in its non-linear epistemology, breaks barriers between forms and escapes any structured definitions. Like the insidious stickiness of honey, sound’s viscosity invaginates, spreads onto the interior, and, by triggering memories and the somatic, threatens the very totality of our identities. At that rupturing moment, we are not the ones subjecting sound to be known as an object; instead, in its fugitive protest and agency, sound flips the roles of the knower and the known and establishes new possibilities of relating to it, of understanding ourselves, and of listening to the world around us.

Using the theoretical framework of Fred Moten’s formative volume, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, the current thesis explores the sound works of two contemporary artists, Christine Sun Kim and Camille Norment, which unsettle the historicity and the ideology of normativity and oppression in sound. By placing these works in close dialogue with Moten’s complex critical analysis, I look for the interinanimation of the drives behind the Black radical tradition in music and literature mid-twentieth century and the artistic exploration of sound in the last seven years. Furthermore, I follow In the Break’s provocative engagements between Western philosophy (Marx, Freud, and Derrida) and Black radical thought (Fanon, Spillers, Menakem, and Delany) to uncover the operative functioning of both in destigmatizing the ways we understand and relate to sound.