Artists Andrew Pierre Hart and Charmaine Watkiss with Pianist Composer Nduduzo Makhathini in conversation with IN·FLO·RES·CENCE co-curator Katherine Finerty, about collaborative and transcendent aspects of sound in collective memories, curatorial practices, and art-making during the pandemic.
This discussion includes an introduction by curator Katherine Finerty to IN·FLO·RES·CENCE’s focus on the cross-modality of art and sound and the three speakers including one of the project’s commissioned composers Nduduzo Makhathini who’s a pianist, scholar, and healer from South Africa, as well artists Andrew Pierre Hart whose inter-disciplinary practice functions as a rhythmic research of the symbiotic relationship between sound and painting, and Charmaine Watkiss whose practice is grounded in drawing and research is connected to the African Caribbean diaspora and transatlantic ancestral traditions.
Image: Charmaine Watkiss & Andrew Pierre Hart, Installation View, The Abstract Truth of Things, 2020, Tiwani Contemporary, London, UK Photo: Deniz Guzel. Courtesy of Tiwani Contemporary, London.
The jumping off point for this dynamic 80 minutes conversation was the discovery that Andrew and Charmaine were listening to Nduduzo’s latest album whilst they were working on their two-person exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary in London called The Abstract Truth of Things, curated by Adelaide Bannerman and on view until this Saturday September 12th. For this exhibition Andrew compiled 37 songs that were shared between himself, Charmaine, and Adelaide during lockdown, resulting in a vibrant and transcendent playlist for the show which functions both as a representation of their curatorial process as well as an immersive soundscape for those in the gallery.
This intimate conversation delves into each of the artist’s creative practices, and their personal connection to sound in the framework of jazz, collective memory, and cosmology.
It starts with Charmaine’s reflection upon listening to Nduduzo’s song Indawu whilst preparing for her current exhibition with Andrew; leads into Nduduzo’s elaboration upon his new album Modes of Communication: Letters from the Underworlds which was released at the start of lockdown; and continues with Andrew’s interrogation of sonics in grounding his practice as a painting. Furthermore, an unexpected WiFi-blip magically redirected the conversation into a proposal for ritual technology, challenging the Western imposition of linear thinking and creating, in lieu advocating for ancestral knowledge of transcendent tools of cosmological communication.
The Abstract Truth of Things exhibition gains its name from a 1997 show called The Blues and the Abstract Truth featuring American artist David Hammons, which was inspired by the 1961 album by jazz saxophonist Oliver Nelson. This collaboration with curator Adelaide was thus grounded in a greater cultural context, framing the major themes of the power of Jazz and the colour blue. Nduduzo's own jazz practice further nuances this curatorial exploration of Jazz as a tool for the innovation and muli-layered storytelling of American, African, and Caribbean diaspora histories. Through all of these artists practices we can find deep, interwoven transatlantic inspirations, from African influences (like the underwater spirits of the Nguni people as referenced in Nduduzo’s song Indawu; the deep blue Yoruba indigo in Charmaine’s drawing; and circular portals suggesting Afrofuturist teleportation in Andrew’s paintings) to American-accented post-bop and the inventive multiple-movements of John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme.
By transcending time and borders, this conversation dives deep into the idea of music as a form of telling stories, activating collective memory, and conjuring the contexts of history, archaeology, and cosmology in order to reach new global audiences throughout both physical and digital soundscapes.
This conversation encapsulates what the IN·FLO·RES·CENCE platform is rooted in: exploring the cross-pollination of art and sound in order to create connections and constellations – inflorescences across borders and communities. The interconnectivity of these three artists’ practices and how they each drawn upon music throughout their daily lives and creative disciplines – enduringly, but especially during the unique conditions of our time – is an example ngoma: the Zulu aesthetic concept based on multiplicity, mutli-mediums, and multi-voices.
Enjoy below the playlist for The Abstract Truth of Things exhibition at Tiwani Contemporary London (23 July – 12 September 2020) featuring tracks selected by curator Adelaide Bannerman and artists Charmaine Watkins and Andrew Pierre Hart.
Charmaine Watkiss: 1-12
Adelaide Bannerman: 13-24
Andrew Pierre Hart: 25-36
Previous Works by Andrew Pierre Hart:
Andrew's interdisciplinary practice focuses on the symbiotic relationship between sound and painting through the mediums of painting, music, video, performance, found object, image, language, photography, and installation. Repeating themes in his works include: Blue, The Circle, Funk, Movement, Rhythm (rather than time), and collective memor.
My practice an ongoing rhythmic research and play of improvised and spontaneous generative processes... By proposing Painting and Sound, through the notion of cross-modality , reconstructing languages, and idea generation, my practice responds ad infinitum: an improvisation of improvisation . All of this is translated through the action of play and experimentation ; a new wave expanded painting. - Andrew Pierre Hart