Sonic Wilderness Ensemble, Performa NYC (2023)

Sonic Wilderness Ensemble, Performa NYC (2023)

“Are we still Nature?”

Curated by PUBLICS, co-presented with PERFORMA and co-produced by PALO Art Productions, SONIC TONIC ASSEMBLY, a listening program of innovative sound artists using location-specific field recording as their starting point to create aural worlds at the intersection of sonic poetry, abstracted music, and experimental black and global feminist technologies. SONIC TONIC ASSEMBLY has two overlapping episodes of an extended unfolding event that sounds out and listens in.

Episode 1: Sonic Wilderness: AGF, Islaja, Lau Nau, and Cucina Povera

Curated by PUBLICS, Performa and Pioneer Works co-present Sonic Wilderness with renowned Finland based artists AGF, Islaja, Lau Nau, Cucina Povera. This episode is co-produced by PALO Art Productions, Helsinki.

Gathered in New York for the first time, this assembly performs together in a dedicated event as individual artists and as a collaborative group as part of an intense sonic experience. During the one-day performance, viewers listen to Antye Greie-Ripatti aka “AGF”, Islaja, Lau Nau, and Cucina Povera who will each perform collectively as part of a durational relay of sonic movements, and responsive interconnections across and between each artist’s work based on a dialogical process and gather together to interpret and co-mingle with field recordings from Finland. In addition, each will present their latest works.

Through a discursive methodology of gathering, the assembly first takes in sound recording as part of a cooperative workshop where sampling and field research is brought to acoustic and digital sound making devices.  Sonic Wilderness takes the particularities of the Finnish landscape and aural locatedness as their starting point, where concepts of wilderness, place-bound life recordings and lived spaces become the instruments and listening worlds. This assembly of sound artists based in Finland invites the audience in NYC to become aware of the myriad of human and non-human agencies and sonic reverberations in which we live, move and interact with. As our being with the world and others are changed by the continued ecocide, we are asked to reconsider the anthropocentric viewpoint of Landscape:  “Are we still Nature?”

Episode 2: Sounding a Black Grammar: KMRU with Bhavisha Panchia + friends

PUBLICS and Performa present Sounding a Black Grammar, where Kenyan sound artist KMRU will perform the premier of his new work Stupor alongside related sounds. Stupor is an album which meditates on spatial and temporal passages across cities and spaces. The album was commissioned as a score for an imaginary future festival by PUBLICS, co-published with record label OTHER POWER in Helsinki and co-produced by Performa as a vinyl release. In a conversation between KMRU and curator-writer Bhavisha Panchia, they will discuss the lead up to making Stupor, and point to the politics of movement and diaspora, including the relationship between abstraction and ambient music, listening and positionality.

Sounding a Black Grammar is a combined listening panel, exhibition, performance and discursive event. It convenes around black audio culture to expand and complicate forms, from minimalism, improvisation, and experimental music, to ambient and techno genres. Through spoken, musical and poetic articulations, Lamin Fofana, Tony Cokes, KMRU, and DeForrest Brown with Lester St. Louis and Chris Williams (HxH), navigate and negotiate the politics of what it means to be black in the world through different aural grammars and Black sonic formations that link Africa and its diaspora globally.

SONIC TONIC ASSEMBLY is organized and curated by Paul O’Neill, Artistic Director of PUBLICS, and Defne Ayas, Curator-at-Large at Performa. Sonic Wilderness is co-produced by Performa and PALO Art Productions, Helsinki.

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