This discussion includes an introduction to IN·FLO·RES·CENCE’s focus on the cross-modality of art and sound and the three guest speakers: artist Elaine Mitchener whose work encompasses improvisation, contemporary music theatre, and performance art; filmmaker and theorist Kodwo Eshun who is a co-founder of The Otolith Group and explores ideas about how music and science fiction intersects with the African diaspora; and art historian and curator Temi Odumosu whose research focuses on the visual politics and archiving of colonialism, and how art mediates social change and healing.
Director Elvira Dyangani Ose, turning towards her curatorial interest in storytelling and the idea of sound as a poetic source of knowledge, moderates this conversation around the idea of jazz as expressed through experimental vocals, movement, and composition; as well as the cross-modalities of sonics, art, performance, social transformation, and healing, which everyone’s individual practices and recent collaborations potently address.
This hour and a half long conversation delves into Elaine’s collaborative practice with reference to her unique composition for IN·FLO·RES·CENCE blutit; her recent performance at Cafe OTO performing Alvin Lucier’s Bird and Person Dynin; and her seminal piece SWEET TOOTH which premiered in 2017 at Bluecoat Liverpool, UK as was most recently performed in and most recently in 2020 at the Borealis Samtale Festival in Bergen, Norway accompanied by a conversation with Temi.
Please enjoy these references below:
This discussion also reflects deeply upon American composer, pianist, vocalist, and dancer Julius Eastman and Elaine’s collaboration with The Otolith Group in resurrecting his influential legacy. The Third Part of the Third Measure by The Otolith Group (2017) featured a speech by Elaine based on her adapted transcription of Eastman’s Northwestern University statement responded to objections to his composition titles, before his concert on 16 January 1980.
Furthermore, Elaine and Kodwo participated in INVOCATIONS I + II for the WE HAVE DELIVERED OURSELVES FROM THE TONAL – Of, with, towards, on Julius Eastman exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin (2018) – a symposium focusing on concepts beyond the predominantly Western musicological format of the tonal or harmonic. Further works in Elaine’s performance oeuvre in honour of Eastman include In Search of Julius Eastman by Elaine Mitchener (2016) and Elegy | EASTMAN INVOCATIONS by George E Lewis (2018).
More information about these projects about Julius Eastman:
The Third Part of the Third Measure (2017) by The Otolith Group
WE HAVE DELIVERED OURSELVES FROM THE TONAL – Of, with, towards, on Julius Eastman (2018) Exhibition at SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin
In Search of Julius Eastman (2016) by Elaine Mitchener
Elegy | EASTMAN INVOCATIONS (2018) by George E Lewis
Finally, this conversation finishes with a reflection on American Pianist and Poet Cecil Taylor, whose ground-breaking experimental practice this platform is in honour of. Indeed, the structure of multiple voices at the core of this project is inspired by an inflorescence: a cluster of flowers arranged on a stem, comprising a complicated arrangement of branches, further referencing the budding of blossoms – the process of flowering, a moment of unfolding, the stage of development full of possibility and production. This anatomical concept is also eponymous with the 1989 avant-garde album by Taylor (1929–2018), whose practice has fused sound and art since the 1950s free jazz and New York loft scene through till this decade with his Open Plan exhibition at The Whitney Museum in 2016.
As reflected in the meaning of this word, Taylor’s experimental ethos, and the political agency of jazz, this project aims to activate the global history of creative cross-pollination between musical and visual art communities through a gathering of voices reflecting upon the conditions of this unique historical moment. Through these participatory and expansive modes of connection, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE will create a constellation – an inflorescent cluster – filled with multiple voices, active listening, a poetic source of knowledge, and a resonant echo of call and response. A space to breathe, listen, create, and connect.