Sonic Support Group

Sonic Support Group is an interdisciplinary collaboration seeking to release the innate therapeutic potential within certain art exhibitions for NHS staff and frontline workers.

The project is a joint initiative between Neurofringe – a group of Neurologists working in the UK who are engaged in the cutting edge intersections of neuroscience, art and society – and London based artist Abbas Zahedi. By working across disciplines, Neurofringe and Zahedi are seeking to highlight the essential capacity for care that is present in both medicine and art; whilst also addressing social binaries emerging with generalised labels such as the ‘useful’ and the ‘useless.’ In this way, Sonic Support Group intends to become a catalyst towards reimagining what it means to support one another in ongoing times of need. 

The initial Sonic Support Group pilot, taking place since December 2020, is wholly aimed at frontline workers and NHS staff. Once referred, individuals from these sectors are granted special access to Zahedi’s currently dormant exhibition, Ouranophobia SW3 on a therapeutic basis. Sonic Support Group provides these individuals with a moment of precious respite from their day to day efforts to aid the public whilst becoming increasingly vulnerable themselves.

Ouranophobia SW3 contains a number of site-specific sound and physical art works, situated within a disused sorting office in Chelsea (South-West London). Elements of the show relate to Zahedi’s own experiences as a former medic, whilst also exploring themes of grief, loss and sensory deprivation – aspects of reality which we all now face on an unprecedented scale. The ‘thera-poetic’ potential of the exhibition, as well as the physicality of the building and site, therefore provide an ideal framework through which the escalating levels of workplace trauma that we are seeing today can begin to be alleviated.

This re-presentation of Ouranophobia SW3 for frontline staff is made possible under government guidance for hosting physical support groups during times of restriction. To alleviate risks, the organisers are accepting referrals from those based within the local area for the time being – which includes several hospitals, a medical college and a number of TfL stations that are all within walking distance of the exhibition. Safety is further ensured through limiting access to the space to single visitors at any one time. Amendments to these safety measures will be considered inline with Government guidance. 

For more information, or to make a confidential referral to the support group please contact info@sonicsupportgroup.com 

If you would like to make a contribution, we would suggest you donate to the Royal Brompton and Harefield hospital’s extensive art program via the following link.

Image credit: Sonic Support Group attendee, Ouranophobia SW3, Chelsea Sorting Office, General Release, 2020. Photo courtesy of the artist.


Collaborators & Contact

Neurofringe is an organisation founded by Mohammad Mahmud, Sabrina Kalam, Nikos Gorgoraptis and Ania Crawshaw – a group of neurologists working in the UK, brought together by a shared interest in the borderlands between neurosciences, art and society. Neurofringe is a platform and forum for projects and dialogues which fall into just such areas of overlap.

Abbas Zahedi (b. 1984) is a London based artist, blending contemporary philosophy, poetics, and social dynamics with performance, sound, sculpture, and moving-image. With an emphasis on how personal and collective histories interweave, Zahedi makes connections whenever possible with people involved in the particular situations upon which he focuses, to invite others into the conversation. Zahedi studied medicine before completing his MA at Central Saint Martins in 2019. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including: Thinking Time, Artangel (2020); Jerwood Arts Bursary (2019); Aziz Foundation Academic Scholarship (2018); and Khadijah Saye Memorial Fund Scholarship (2017). 

Toby Upson (b. 1996) is an expanded curator based in London. His research interests lie in the intersection between the overly theoretical and the glorious mundane. Exploring the verges of a praxis, and the timorous sensations afforded when one embodies a state of vulnerability, he plays with curatorial modalities that run counter to forms of regime, Whiteness, and hegemony. Recent projects include working with Belmacz, Garden Wall, South London Gallery, Kelder Projects, the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, Camden Art Centre, and Transition Gallery. His writings have been published widely across various outlets. 

All enquiries should be directed to info@sonicsupportgroup.com