Steph Kretowicz

Being alone + the sprawling intertia of Steph Kretowicz’s Somewhere I’ve Never Been on NTS

4 May 2017

Steph Kretowicz (aka AQNB editor Jean Kay) presents the Somewhere I’ve Never Been broadcast on NTS radio.

The first Episode aired on May 2 and will be played once a month for the next 7 months. With excerpts from the book’s “account of loss and being alone in a self-started journey through the US, Europe and the Middle East” read out by Kretowicz and interspersed with what sound producer Kimmo Modig describes as “paranoid pop [and] vertigo soundscapes,” the project is part of forthcoming novel and live audio book Somewhere I’ve Never Been co-published by Berlin’s TLTRPreß and London’s Pool

The launch is taking place at London’s The Yard on May 14 where a live audio rendition of the book and immserive collaboration involving a host of artists, friends and ‘characters’ featured in the book including live performances by Good Sad Happy Bad, Micachu, Tirzah, and Coby Sey, as well DJ sets by Imaginary Forces, felicita, and Aimee Cliff (Angel Food), video projections by Ulijona Odišarija, compering by Brother May and a choir called AKA Pellah.

See the FB event page for details.**

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International soundscapes + performances for the Somewhere I’ve Never Been “live audio book” at The Yard, May 14

18 April 2017

Steph Kretowicz (aka AQNB editor Jean Kay) is launching a novel, Somewhere I’ve Never Been, with a “live audio book” rendition of the text at London’s The Yard Theatre on May 14. 

Created with artist and sound designer Kimmo Modig, the event will be an immersive collaboration involving a host of artists, friends and ‘characters’ featured in the book. Those include live performances by Good Sad Happy Bad, Micachu, Tirzah, and Coby Sey, as well DJ sets by Imaginary Forces, felicita, and Aimee Cliff (Angel Food), video projections by Ulijona Odišarija, compering by Brother May and a choir called AKA Pellah.

The event draws on a forthcoming podcast, audio book and radio show — also produced with Modig and accompanying the Somewhere I’ve Never Been book — to begin broadcasting on NTS Radio in late April. The multi-platform narrative, co-published by Berlin’s TLTRPreß and London’s Pool, expands on the text, which consists a cohesive selection of non-fiction essays exploring international soundscapes as an expression of heavily mediated, networked mobile environments. 

The event is produced alongside The Yard’s Dan Hampson, as well as artists Sey and Levi of the Curl label and collective.

See the FB event page for details.**

Header image by Maria Mitcheva.

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AQNB workshop on online communication for art professionals in Helsinki with Frame + AV-arkki, May 24

13 April 2017

AQNB is presenting a workshop on online communication for art professionals at Helsinki’s Frame on May 24.

The event is hosted by the Helsinki-based nonprofit artists’ association AV-arkki and advocate for Finnish contemporary art Frame Finland. AQNB editor Steph Kretowicz (aka Jean Kay) and Video in Common (AQNB’s production company arm) director Caroline Heron will hold a workshop aimed at art professionals “to encourage creative, varied and effective ways of using the internet in different art contexts,” as well as introducing their own practices within the field.

The free event will be tailored to the audience taking part, and an email to coordinator Maikki Lavikkala at by April 23 is a requirement.

See the Frame website for more instructions and details of the event.**

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Claimed, assigned, shifting: Exploring post-Brexit identity with Somesuch Stories

17 January 2017

Somesuch Stories, founded by London production company Somesuch in 2014 as a digital platform featuring essays and short stories by contemporary writers, came out with its first print issue Somesuch Stories Vol. I in 2015. Edited by journalist Suze Olbrich, the collection brought together works published on the Somesuch Stories website that spanned topics from culture and nature to sex and society, including pieces by Amy Liptrot, Ben Myers and Philippa Snow, among others.

Somesuch Stories Vol 11, (2017). Cover. Courtesy the writers + Somesuch Stories.

After the success of the first print collection, Somesuch Stories decided to become a biannual project, with the second issue set to launch on January 26 with an RSVP party at London’s The Shed. In light of recent political upheavals, the new issue has commissioned 10 writers to respond to the theme of ‘identity,’ and the ways this concept — according to Olbrich — is collectively and individually “formed, related to, claimed and assigned.”

Meandering through mental and physical landscapes, each story explores a a sense of self as defined by past and present futures, seamlessly transitioning from one to the next. Distant memories form structures of longing and returning, from Luke Turner‘s musings on “a memorial to a lost sense of belonging” in ‘Stoodley Pike’ to the less romantic recollections of gender and sex in Ka Bradley‘s ‘The Wall.’

Switching up time-frames and moving from one party gathering to the next, Dean Kissick‘s ‘Young Moon’ is both intimate and distant in its colloquial language. A similar tone of irresolution makes for unstable wanderings in aqnb editor Steph Kretowicz‘s ‘Home is where the fear is/ Same shit, different city.’ A photograph of a pro-Trump shopfront taken from through a window is sandwiched between the autobiographical text that is set within a “post-Brexit hangover of precarity and fear.” A multinational writer moves the reader from one social encounter to the next, each feeding back into the loop of anxiety associated with the idea of ‘home.’

“Less Othering. More humanity. There’s also a dark humour to a lot of what we publish,” says Olbrich, who discusses with us the aim behind the project, and the way identity is built upon a “multiplicity of colluding factors” that are continual shifting.

Somesuch Stories, ‘The Wall’, (2016). Courtesy Suze Olbrich and Ka Bradley.

** I enjoy the length of the stories. There’s a nice way all the disparate narratives are compiled into one book essentially. What draws you to short ‘stories’ over other forms of writing and poetry?

Suze Olbrich: Yes, the intention was for each piece to compound certain ideas from the previous, weaving it tighter and tighter, however it can be hard to judge whether that will come across strongly so it’s nice to hear that it does, thank you. Anyway, it’s fairly straightforward in that short stories provide much scope for creativity and experimentation — a great testing ground for characters and concepts. They are also deep enough to take a reader to another place for a while, and should it work, to leave a lasting impression. With essays, it’s the interrogation thing. They are an excellent form for exploring ideas around culture and society, while tethering pieces into ongoing discussions around topical themes. We also publish a lot of what would fall under creative non-fiction, hybrids, and I think that’s important as very little of what we do is reporting, and so getting stringent about categories seems nigh on false. Life and its interpretations, even on a personal level, doesn’t function that way, subjectivity shapes everything.

** What made you want to go from online publishing to the printed physical book?

SO: With issue 1 it was to mark a year of existing online. It felt like a natural evolution and everyone involved loves print. We also realised a lot of those fantastic early pieces wouldn’t have had all that many eyes on them, and wanted to celebrate and draw attention to the project. Ongoing, it lends itself supremely well to the form, and the idea of publishing a whole series of them that can sit on shelves, for decades even perhaps, appealed hugely.

Somesuch Stories, Back cover

** How do the published books differ from the online content (do they become more curatorial)?

SO: I’ve been commissioning online pieces in thematic series for the past year-and-a-half, the current one is desire, so it’s not vastly different in that basic sense. However, also thinking about it as an object, and obviously commissioning and designing it as one, with stories and essays that will sit next to each other IRL and form a dynamic, cohesive journey that (hopefully) will be absorbing and enlightening. Yes, there is more of a curatorial element in an experiential sense. 

** The theme ‘identity’ feels both broad and specific. Is there an aim to capture some sort of trend and shared conversation or are you trying to create something more multi-directional in that sense?

SO: It has to be multidirectional, and shared, as, I mean, it’s essential to everything, and it will never stop evolving whether on an individual level or within any sort of grouping of humans. But it was also greatly informed by the time during which the brief for the issue was devised, the fortnight following the referendum with attendant disarray here and ever more concerning developments in the lead up to the US election, as well as the ongoing refugee crisis and its causes and repercussions. There was a lot of uncertainty unleashed by that result, as well as vitriol, racism, xenophobia and bigotry; so much labelling, Othering and disparaging categorisation. And there was no way round that, it bled into every conversation, every piece of media, and we had the opportunity to publish considered, creative responses to it, to try do undo some ill-feeling even in the tiniest way.

Somesuch Stories. Courtesy Luke Turner.

So, for example, we have an essay looking at broader geopolitical and societal factors such as widespread economic insecurity that are shaping young people’s mindsets, and might lead them to pay heed to nationalist rhetoric, by Oscar Rickett, and then a short story by Abiola Oni set in a dystopian near-future that focuses on how a lack of documentation curtails a life, which is hugely resonant. Yet, the issue is not solely focused on that quagmire. A lot of what we publish looks at notions around contemporary culture, and the issue also explores identity constructs pertaining to celebrity figures, both the idolisation of hip hop stars in Dean [Kissick]’s script, and systemic sexual abuse and misogyny in Hollywood in Philippa [Snows]’s essay about Mia Farrow. In addition, we take a sideways look at whether it’s possible to maintain a coherent sense of self while living a transient, freelance, always-online life.**

The Somesuch Stories Vol 2 launch party is on at London’s The Shed, January 26, 2017. RSVP:

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3hd Festival 2016 recommendations

10 October 2016

The second edition of 3hd Festival, hosted by Berlin-based event-organisers Creamcake, is happening across the German city this week at venues including HAU Hebbel am Ufer, OHM, and Vierte Welt, running October 11 to 15.

This year’s theme follows the title ‘There is nothing left but the Future?’ and will come accompanied by a live Creamcake Boiler Room Berlin set on October 13 and a series of broadcasts on Berlin Community Radio called 3hd Presents… and moderated by music journalist and writer Steph Kretowicz throughout the week from October 11.

Some events to look out for include the following :

The Heal the World exhibition @ Vierte Welt with an opening featuring a program of talks by Rianna Jade ParkerRuth Angel Edwards  and Vika Kirchenbauer among others – Oct 11

Kara-Lis Coverdale @ Vierte Welt will present intimate solo piano concert PICL (Pieces in Caps Lock), followed by a conversation with journalist and music theorist Raphael Smarzoch – Oct 12

‘Speculative Futurism’ @ OHM Berlin featuring music by coucou chloé, Ssaliva and Music For Your Plants among others, as well as an installation by Ink Agop – Oct 12

Claire Tolan, SHUSH-to-come: SHUSH choir & performance @ Vierte Welt – Oct 13

‘Acting under Capital’ @ Hebbel am Ufer featuring media based artwork Inga Copeland / Lolina, Soda Plains & Negroma and COOL FOR YOU among others – Oct 14

‘Present Sense’ @ Hebbel am Ufer featuring Aïsha Devi & Emile Barret, Easter and HVAD among others – Oct 15

‘There is no time! Let it go’ @ OHM Berlin features an evening of DJs and producers – Oct 15

See the 3hd Festival website for details.**

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The Live Art Almanac, Volume 4 launch @ The White Building, Jun 28

27 June 2016

The Live Art Almanac, Volume 4 is launching at London’s The White Building on June 28.

Featuring writing by the likes of Derica Shields, Coco Fusco, Morgan Quaintance and Vaginal Davis, the publication is a collection of ‘found’ writing about live art and radical performance-based practices, published by Live Art Development Agency (LADA) and Oberon Books. The event will feature two open discussions on “the state of writing” from current and former LADA members as well as Harriet Curtis of Kings College London, and a debate with UK-based writers, Diana Damian, Maddy Costa and Mary Paterson.

The pieces were “published, shared, sent, spread and read” between January 2012 and December 2014 and collated into several loosely themed sections including ‘Locating Performance’, ‘Performance Under Attack’. ‘Speaking Up/Speaking Out’, ‘Show Me the Money’, ‘High Art in Low Places’, ‘Reviews’ and ‘Dearly Departed’. These include writing on or by the likes of Mykki Blanco, Wu Tsang, Shia LaBeouf and boychildMarina Galperina, Claire Bishop, Steph Kretowicz and Emily Roysdon, among others.

See the LADA website for details.**



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Apprehension poetry readings @ Slade School, Jun 16

15 June 2016

An evening of poetry, ‘Apprehension: come back for another look’ is on at London’s Slade School of Art on June 16.

Performing are a group of artists and writers whose work could be said to deal with subjectivity, poetry, voices, being online and representation, including Cassandre GreenbergCristine Brache —organisers of recent ICA event No Screening —Ulijona Odišarija and Christopher Kirubi, all of whom are current Slade students.

The evening coincides with the MA degree show that runs until June 19.

Reading via Skype and on a smartphone from New York will be writer and editor Steph Kretowicz whose forthcoming book, Somewhere I’ve Never Been will publish later this year via Pool.

Artist and poet Penny Goring and Aurelia Guo whose PDF, ‘black mUJI notebook‘ was recently shared online and contains Guo’s eloquent musings and stark thoughts, will also both feature in this evening of ‘Apprehension’.

See the FB event page for more details.**

Aurelia Guo, t-shirt for Interstate Projects 5 Year Anniversary Benefit (2016). Courtesy the artist
Aurelia Guo, ‘t-shirt for Interstate Projects 5 Year Anniversary Benefit’ (2016). Courtesy the artist.
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