Editorial : Collaboration//connection

In an interview with Screen Worlds, Kenyan filmmaker Philippa Ndisi-Herman declared that collaboration can be likened to dance. To begin with, the beats and the melody might seem strange or even jarring, but when you begin to move your body, you realise that these alien rhythms are in fact exactly what you wanted. In this case, Ndisi-Herman is talking about her collaboration with Mozambican composer Tiago Correia-Paulo, who scored her most recent film New Moon (2018). Correia-Paulo initially returned his score to Ndisi-Herman, who was unperturbed by the music, given that classical undertones did not align with her vision of how the film would be scored. However, upon leaving it, and returning to it many times, the filmmaker began to understand the complexities within it, and in turn brought a new, enhanced perception to the film. The result is an incredibly moving soundtrack that not only complements the pictures, but builds upon the frames in a way that brings depth to the film. It is this process, this molding of perception from influence outside of the immediate sphere of reference that we want to unpick in this edition of SuperGlue. We want to explore these dances that are occurring, the misplaced footsteps that lead to new routines, the stilted flow of two bodies becoming a torrent of fresh ideas.

Film Still. Zethu Maseko, Zuggans, A collaboration with Dear Ribane (2019), 2 minutes 28 seconds. Courtesy of the artist. Photo Kay Kay Ribane

For us, collaboration leads towards a certain connectedness. Having been through a year of separation, of ruptures and transitions, we see it as the perfect time to bring together ideas, to experience connectedness again. SuperGlue believes in the power of connection. The power within the connected has the potential to not only move art practice forward, but also allows for healing of the past and present. In her films, Zethu Maseko employs the use of the African instrument, the Mbira, to build upon this healing process. The Mbira was one of the very first instruments of humankind, originating from Southern Africa. The instrument is used in ceremonies and rituals as a channel for communicating to ancestral spirits, as well as being prescribed for illness, both mental and physical. In scoring her films with the harmonic sounds of the Mbira, Maseko beautifully accentuates her insistence to indigenize her own internal and external communications by first communicating with her own ancestors, reconnecting herself to her heritage, and secondly healing these wounds that occurred as a consequence of this loss. Moreover, in drawing upon pre-colonial music instruments, Maseko can start an afrofuturist journey, unhindered by the insidious damage caused by Western imperialism. Furthermore, Maseko embodies the power of collaboration through her founding of the North London Creative Resistance, a platform that seeks social change through art. Find out more as SuperGlue features an interview with Maseko, which will uncover her artistic practice and ideas.

Davide-Christelle Sanvee, Le ich dans nicht, 2019, performance at the Swiss Performance Awards, 37 min. Courtesy of the artist. Photo Frederico Ramos Lopes, Emmanuelle Bayart.

In her participatory performances, Geneva and Amsterdam based artist Davide-Christelle Sanvee similarly roots her practice within history, connecting the past with the present. Through her performances, the artist questions and unveils the intangible histories and power dynamics entrenched within architecture and public spaces. For example, in her piece Le ich dans nicht, which won the Swiss Performance Awards in 2019, she addresses the public with these words, “[…] how  are things done and why are they here? Who validates the projects and decides that things are going to be exactly where they are?”. By proposing such queries as this, she highlights the fact that every architectural infrastructure is born from the decision of individuals, who each have the privilege of imposing their choices. These very choices will irrevocably affect the way people interact within the space. Thus, by connecting architecture to her audience and to her own experience, the artist unravels the way in which public spaces shape our behavioural codes. Through her performances, Davide-Christelle Sanvee highlights and disrupts these dynamics by making the public interact with each other (Everything around, including you, 2019, Amsterdam), by holding imaginary dialogues with architects (Le ich dans nicht, Basel, 2019), or by staging a hike followed by the unpacking of her backpack in a Park in Geneva as a metaphor of her own experience as a Swiss-Togolese living in Switzerland and the Netherlands (Scuzi, Where is le château?, 2018, Geneva). 

Refugia, Exhibition Poster, Alternative Space LOOP, 2021.

In the field of digital aesthetics, a fresh attempt at collaboration can be seen in the new exhibition Refugia, held at Alternative Space LOOP in Seoul. Refugia, a project of 11 international female artists, is an exhibition that displays the power in the ecological circulation of sound art despite the apathy toward sound art from the mainstream of contemporary art scene. For this reason, Refugia sets out to represent the work done by sound artists, who have been consistently producing sound works in this indifferent vein. Furthermore, this exhibition focuses on the consequence of the capitalist patriarchal system. In a world that has been reserved for the white male cartel, as a consequence of western capitalist development, women have been subjugated in a way that has seen them as periphery to mainstream consciousness; likewise, sound art has been an object of alienation in the art field, where visual art is at the center. Given that the exhibition consists solely of female artists, who each bring their own artistic interpretations within the field of sound technology to the exhibition, which in doing so clearly shows what the curator, Ji Yoon Yang, is highlighting. She says that the artists taking part in Refugia, as well as being women, have consistently addressed this global crisis through their work and methodology. Readings, soundscapes, the composition of noise, and DJing are some of the ways in which they share their most recent work.1 In particular, Superglue chooses Refugia as the theme of this month to provide readers an opportunity to experience this sonic exhibition inheriting the question of the universal order of the world. The readers can appreciate the works of Refugia in the attached link of Sound Art Korea channel in the article accompanied with the timetable of the exhibition.

1. Ji Yoon Yang, Curator's Writing of Refugia: Sound Projects by 11 Women Artists, (Alternative Space Loop, 2021).

Connect with us this month by reading more about these exciting artists over the coming week, and remember, stay glued.