VSF Sound Program by Claire Tolan | Presented by Paloma Powers: Maybe it wants what it wanted inside out

Paloma Powers, the futurist art agitator and dark materialist, is fascinated by the body as an interface for aesthetic intervention, inside and out. As the line between art object and lifestyle accessory is increasingly blurred, does corporeal sensation itself also become commodity?


This summer, Paloma is pleased to present a special intervention at Various Small Fires inspired by ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response), the psycho-physical “tingling” sensation triggered by various stimuli, that has become the basis for an entire online subculture.


Through a new sound piece by Berlin’s Claire Tolan and a live workshop/symposium in late June, ASMR will be explored as a key site where the body, technology, ritual, and commerce intersect, and what provocative possibilities this holds for artists, scientists and speculative capitalists alike.


Claire Tolan’s “Maybe it wants what it wanted inside out” will premiere as a 5-channel installation in Various Small Fires sound corridor (parallel to the group exhibition “No! I Am No Singular Instrument” curated by Samuel Kenswil), and will also be available to experience online.


Claire Tolan’s current work with ASMR uses the soft and mesmerising sounds as equipment in sometimes sweet, and sometimes sardonic, systems of soothing.


On June 25, a symposium/workshop will convene special guests from the worlds of art, sound, neuroscience and online communities to discuss this enigmatic phenomenon and tailor live experiences for the participants.



Since 2013, much of Claire Tolan’s work has found its foundation in the sounds of ASMR, Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. Tolan has hosted “You’re Worth It,” an ASMR show on Berlin Community Radio for over two years. She has also worked with ASMR in performance, recording, and exhibition, collaborating with musician Holly Herndon, writer and artist Inger Wold Lund, and artist Camilla Steinum, among others. Tolan was the 2015 Goethe-Institut and SPACE Perlin Noise sound artist-in-residence at London’s White Building. At present, Tolan is developing an ASMR-inspired tabletop role-playing game (RPG) system.



Paloma Powers is a creative agency and consultancy developing innovative, artist-led solutions for clients beyond the traditional art world. Led by Ms. Powers and her associates in New York, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Amsterdam, the company specializes in connecting art with other industries through consulting, matchmaking, and production.


Paloma Powers (née Paloma Li-Cruz) is a Brazilian born polymath with over 30 years of experience on the cutting edge of the global art world. Early milestones include serving as first creative director of MTV Japan, uncredited stylist to Grace Jones, and muse to Helmut Newton. In her years on the International Color Council, she coined the term “greige”, and also pioneered the first art-by-Laserdisc subscription service. She established her latest company, Paloma Powers, as a response to limited business models within a changing art world, to elevate the role and value of cultural workers, and to broaden the audiences and contexts for art.