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SOUNDINGS | Black Sonic Archives

  • The Orbit 81 De Korte St, Braamfontein 53-Ir Johannesburg, Gauteng South Africa (map)

Composers in Conversation
Thuthuka Sibisi & Philip Miller

In this conversation, South African composers Thuthuka Sibisi and Philip Miller discuss their recent composition – a musical arrangement for the image-sound installation, entitled, The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined, which forms part of the exhibition Black Chronicles IV, exhibited at the FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg (2018); the Apartheid Museum (2017, Johannesburg) and Iziko South African National Gallery (2017, Cape Town). The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined tells the story of a group of 16 South African singers who travelled to Victorian England in 1891 to raise money for a technical college back home. Over two years, Sibisi and Miller worked with 15 contemporary singers in Cape Town to compose five songs, drawing from the original repertoire.

Future Sonic Ontologies: Cowbell Mixtapes as Sonic Incursions
Robert Machiri & Elsa M’bala

In his performance, entitled, PUNGWE SOUND TRAILS, Future Sonic Ontologies: Cowbell Mixtapes as Sonic Incursions, Robert Machiri (a.k.a Chi), draws on contemporary digital technologies to explore how sound performance can re-map spaces and histories in the contemporary moment. Using cowbells to represent a precolonial sonic archive of knowledge, Pungwe engages with remixing to consider questions of authenticity, adaptation and transformation. Chi downloads samples from the International Library of African Music website, and utilises them as the basis for a sound performance, which is intended to portray a frenzied state of mind. Drawing on the ideology of remixing, Chi interrogates colonial framings of African music to liberate them from the reductive subjection of the archive.

Sonic Bridges
Thembinkosi Goniwe
With collaborating musicians:
Andile Yenana (piano); Feya Faku (trumpet); Titi Luziphdo (vocals) & guests.
Photographic images by Andrew Tshabangu

Looking at Tshabangu’s photographs, not only do we see but also hear sounds and imagine sounds, rhythms, melody and beats. We witness both silence and sonic manifestations … (Thembinkosi Goniwe)

In Sonic Bridges, curator and artist Thembinkosi Goniwe has commissioned a remarkable, impromptu jazz quintet to respond to, look at, listen to, and interpret, a selection of photographic images from South African photographer, Andrew Tshabangu’s seminal Bridges (2008-) series. Through sonic mediums, the musicians evoke the praying, chanting, preaching, marching and dancing of worshippers documented in the projected images, which focus on religious and spiritual rituals performed in unusual, often make-shift contexts. One of the key photographs to be performed is Tribute to the Ancestors of the Middle Passage, shot in New York in 1999. This particular photograph is engaged with and performed through Dianne Reeves’ song, Bridges, after which Tshabangu’s Bridges series is named.