Kieran Monaghan – Mundane Utopia (13/06/2024 – 6/07/2024)


1: of, relating to, or characteristic of, the world
2: characterised by the practical, transitory, and ordinary
– Some mundane online dictionary

“…we should reinvent utopia, but in what sense? There are two false meanings of utopia. One is this old notion of imagining this ideal society we know will never be realised. The other is the capitalist utopia … of new perverse desire that you are not only allowed but even solicited to realise. The true utopia is when the situation is so without [solution], without the way to resolve it within the coordinates of the possible, that out of the pure urge of survival you have to invent a new space. Utopia is not [a] kind of a free imagination, utopia is a matter of inner most urgency, you are forced to imagine it, it is the only way out, and this is what we need today.”
– Slavoj Žižek, Public lecture at Universidad de Buenos Aires


What could utopia sound like? What if the mundane babble of things simply going about their livingness was how it sounded? Not in a state of idealised perfection, but a continuous and dynamic state of balancing. What if we could perceive this?

This installation aims to make audible a little piece of what is already, has been, and will continue to go on for a very long time. Just beyond ‘our’ world is the world of everything else, unfolding in its ordinary, continuous, mundane way. The machine in this exhibition holds the place of a translator. It detects signals of ongoing, other-aliveness and converts into crude signals audible to human anatomy. It is an unsophisticated interpretation. It provides no comprehension, but does enable us to perceive something that is not of us, in a way that may make some sense to us.

And how shall we interact with this. The ‘other’ knows when we are here, we can hear its signal change with interaction: touch, adding water, being neglected and dehydrating, and shining UV as if we pretend to be daylight. A mundane utopia for troubled and damaged times exists already, it’s not waiting for us.


Opens: Thursday 13 June, 5.30pm, with refreshments by Liberty Breweries
Hours: 12 – 4pm, Tuesday – Saturday
Closes: Saturday 6 July


Public events:
Friday 14 June, 8pm @ Whammy Backroom
vegetable.machine.animal live in concert
Tickets here
More info here

Saturday 15 June, 1pm @ Audio Foundation
Kieran Monaghan Office Ambience performance and artist talk
More info here

Saturday 15 June, 5pm @ Audio Foundation, free
Film Screening: Jogja Noise Bombing (Indonesia)
More info here


Kieran Monaghan (he/him) is predominantly, and persistently, a drummer and percussionist of found sounds. He calls Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington home. His first crude musical steps were in the late 80’s, playing drums in southern punk rock bands. Heading north in the 90’s opened new musical domains such as theatre with Red Mole, and it’s little sister Roadworks, and the diverse arrangements of ‘free-jazz’ that tumbled from venues such as The Space. While continuing to play assertive music, alongside developing confidence in improvisational arenas, necessity also dictated that income be made by playing multiple pub circuits in working bands.

His project, vegetable.machine.animal (VMA), is the newest iteration of ongoing musical expression. It explores the intersections between spontaneous playing, electronic music, and science-informed inter-species collaboration. He co-runs the skirted Records label with domestic and performative partner Chrissie Butler. Together they were the core of the outsider punk group mr sterile Assembly, and Nick Bollinger named them as one of the 10 great rhythm sections of New Zealand. Monaghan has toured internationally many times with the Assembly, and more recently with VMA. He has a long catalogue of solo, band, and collaborative recordings. He is a semi-regular DJ on Radioactive.FM. He remains happily hitched, and is a father to three daughters and one mokopuna.