HxH (Lester St. Louis and Chris Williams)
Moderated by curator and writer Bhavisha Panchia, the episode Sounding a Black Grammar will advance different registers of listening through discussions and playback sessions with HxH (Lester St. Louis and Chris Williams) and Lamin Fofana, a film screening with Tony Cokes, the launch of the album Stupor by KMRU, and a pop-up shop with talks, listening sessions, and new releases from Sonic Wilderness, including with AGF, Cucina Povera, Lau Nau and Islaja.
Friday, Nov. 17: 1-4pm
SONIC TONIC ASSEMBLYPerforma Hub Event
Curated by PUBLICS, co-presented by Performa and Pioneer Works, and co-produced by PALO Art Productions, SONIC TONIC ASSEMBLY is 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 2: Sounding a Black Grammar: KMRU with Bhavisha Panchia + friends
Curated by PUBLICS and Bhavisha Panchia, Performa and Pioneer Works co-present Sounding a Black Grammar, a co-production with PALO Arts Production, Helsinki. In this episode, 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 Jr. 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.
Episode 1: Sonic Wilderness: AGF with Islaja, Lau Nau, Cucina Povera
Curated by PUBLICS, Performa and Pioneer Works co-present Sonic Wilderness with renowned Finland based artists AGF, Islaja, Lau Nau and 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?"
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.
Antye Greie-Ripatti (aka AGF) is a vocalist, musician, composer, and new media artist based in the island of Hailuoto, Finland, since 2008. AGF has released 30 long player records and numerous collaborations, for example with the award-winning classical composer Craig Armstrong. Other projects include The Lappetites, AGF/ DELAY (with Vladislav Delay), Eliane Radigue, Kaffe Matthews, Rupert Huber, TBA aka Natalie Beridz. In 2004 AGF won an Award of Distinction at the 2004 Ars Electronica festival. In 2011 Greie-Ripatti founded the arts organization Hai Art in Hailuoto and practices as artistic director and workshop leader.
About Cucina Povera
Cucina Povera is the solo project of vocalist-composer and sound artist Maria Rossi from Finnish Karelia. It has been described as one the most striking new voices from the European underground music scene. Cucina Povera is the solo project of Finnish-Karelian-Luxembourgish sound artist and composer Maria Rossi, focusing on the marginal and the observational. The repeated motifs in their work are an uncanny testament to the beauty of banality, infused with the mysticism of everyday life and a love for accessible sound sources such as creaky tenement floors, boiling kettles and leaky taps – stories told by means of cheap and rudimentary equipment. Like in the titular practice of peasant cooking, Rossi takes simple ingredients and makes a stylistically resourceful, spontaneous and swirling alchemy that doubles as a creative respite from the hubbub of the metropole.
In Islaja’s haunting vocals and shamanic melodies, Finnish composer and musician Islaja takes her audience on a journey to other worlds. Since the experimental, psychedelic folk music of her early albums, she has long embraced "warped and left-field" electronics. She has been compared to Björk, Syd Barrett, and Nico. Islaja lived and worked in Berlin for over ten years. She moved back to Helsinki in 2022. Other Power will release Islaja’s seventh album Angel Tape in October.
About Lau Nau
Lau Nau, aka Laura Naukkarinen, is a Finnish composer whose music is imbued with an idiosyncratic, finely honed sound world. Her palette often consists of traditional instruments, singing voice, modular synthesisers, reel-to-reel tape recorders and field recordings. To date Lau Nau has released nine albums on record labels in Europe, USA, and Japan and a large number of collaborative releases. The most recent solo album 5 x 4 (Fonal Records & Beacon Sound 2023), is made with the Buchla 200 synthesiser at Elektronmusikstudion Stockholm. Lau Nau is also known for her music to films and multi-channel sound installations. In her role as a sound designer, she won the Finnish State Prize for the Performing Arts 2021. She has toured abroad for over 20 years, playing in venues such as Super Deluxe in Tokyo, the Lab & Castro Theatre in San Francisco and Blank Forms & Issue Project Room in New York.
Joseph Kamaru, aka KMRU, is a Nairobi-born, Berlin-based sound artist whose work is grounded on the discourse of field recording, noise, and sound art. His work posits expanded listening cultures of sonic thoughts and sound practices, a proposition to consider and reflect on auditory cultures beyond the norms. An awareness of surroundings through creative compositions, installations, and performances. He has earned international acclaim from his performances in far-flung locales such as the Barbican, Berlin Atonal, CTM festival, Dekmantel, Le Guess Who, and his profound releases on Editions Mego, Subtext, Seil Records, and Injazero. 2022 saw him supporting Big Thief in the UK/EU and touring with Fennesz in the US. KMRU has carved out a serious and definitive space on the list of essential authors in ambient-experimental music––one of the most prolific and innovative artists in his field.
About Tony Cokes
Tony Cokes is an artist and professor in the Department of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University, Rhode Island. Cokes’ work has been exhibited internationally and was most recently featured in solo exhibitions at Dia Art Foundation / Dan Flavin Art Institute, Bridgehampton (2023); Haus der Kunst and Kunstverein Munich (2022); MACRO Contemporary Art Museum, Rome (2021); CIRCA, London (2021); Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Barcelona (2020); ARGOS center for audiovisual arts, Brussels (2020); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2020); BAK,basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht (2020); Luma Westbau, Zurich (2019); Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, London (2019); The Shed, New York (2019); Kunsthall Bergen (2018); and REDCAT, Los Angeles (2012). Cokes has screened works in group exhibitions at venues including the Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Hammer Museum, Tate Modern, and Carnegie Museum.
About HxH (Lester St. Louis and Chris Williams)
The improvisatory electro-acoustic duo of Lester St. Louis and Chris Williams (HxH) utilizes a mix of trumpet, cello and electronics to build worlds traversing through acoustic sound, grainy textures, expansive pools of sounds, breaks, cuts and beats. The approach is conceived as an expansiveness that holds a personal intimacy. HxH wants to bring the listeners in, tune them to the experience and take a long trip. HxH functions as a vehicle to bring together the mass of references and influences Chris and Lester share and create ways to crystalize those ideas in real, expanded time to an experience over minutes or hours. Along with creating their own body of original music, the duo also work as sound and installation designers; collaborating with other artists and institutions. HxH has performed on series and venues such as Pioneer Works, The Kitchen, Public Records, Roulette Intermedium, Musik Installationen Nürnberg, T- Space Rhinebeck, The Lot Radio and Abasement among others. In June 2023, HxH was awarded a music residency at Pioneer Works. The duo has also collaborated with artists and organizations such as Torkwase Dyson, Fields Harrington, Black Science Fiction, Found Sound Nation, TAK Ensemble, and The International Contemporary Ensemble to name a few.
About Lamin Fofana
Lamin Fofana is an artist and musician currently located in New York. His music contrasts the reality of our world with what’s beyond, and explores questions of movement, migration, alienation and belonging. Fofana’s overlapping interests in history and the present, and his practice of transmuting text into the a ective medium of sound, manifests in multisensory live performances and installations featuring original music compositions, eld recordings and archival material. His latest releases include Ballad Air & Fire, Shafts of Sunlight, and The Open Boat (an album trilogy). Recent exhibitions include JMW Turner with Lamin Fofana: Dark Waters (2022) at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool, England; Preis der Nationalgalerie (2021) at Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany; a call to disorder (2021) at Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany; Life and Death by Water (2021) at the Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool, England; BLUES (2020) at Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College, City University of New York; Refracted Gazes/Fugitive Dreams (2019) at Akademie Schloss Solitude, Stuttgart, Germany; WITNESS at 57th Venice Biennale, Italy; and performances at Documenta 14 (2017), Kassel, Germany and Athens, Greece. In 2021, Fofana was awarded a Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists and was nominated for the National Gallery Prize in Germany. Fofana hosts a monthly radio show on NTS Radio, an online station based in London.
The Finnish Pavilion Without Walls is supported by Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland, Saastamoinen Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Institute New York, FRAME, and Consulate General Finland.
PUBLICS is a curatorial and commissioning agency with a dedicated research library and event space in Helsinki, Finland. Under the artistic direction of curator Paul O’Neill, and team members Annabelle Antas, Micol Curatolo, Valentina Černiauskaitė and PUBLICS YOUTH. PUBLICS explores a “work together” institutional model with multiple overlapping objectives, thematic strands and collaborations. PUBLICS is partnering with Saastamoinen Foundation for 2023-25.
Stéphane Querrec is a Finland-based Basque-French artist manager and producer specialised in conceptual and experimental art projects on the cusp of visual arts, sound, film and performance. As the co-founder and director of PALO, a support structure based in Helsinki, Querrec has over the last few years been involved in the leadership, development, production of more than twenty artworks, partnering with institutions in Finland and abroad.
Senior Program Advisor and Curator at Large: Defne Ayas
Performa 2023 Producer: George R. Miller