In January 2020, Em’kal Eyongakpa developed a new project and installation titled kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ as an intervention within the larger group exhibition Diaspora at Home at CCA Lagos, in partnership with Kadist, Paris.
Over the course of two days Eyongakpa delivered a series of sonic lectures, interventions and live sets. In this context, the work took shape as an installation of three ‘six-veined’ sound sculptures, titled kɛrakaraka #3-i, which include analog polyrhythm generators he has developed over the last couple of years and during Tahjèsè #3i / barɨŋ báchɔ́kɔrɔk #4 at The Showroom. These interacted with fragments from mɔ́ ntai bɛrrɛ, together forming a new multi-channel sound installation.
Kɛrakaraka literally translates as 'sixth finger' in Kɛnyaŋ, a language widely spoken in the Cross River basin in Cameroon; and Kerakaraka #3-i/ e-MungoWest #7 is an analog sound sculpture that relies on the weather and the elements to create atmospheric environmental acoustics: ranging from water and oil-run polyrhythm generators, to custom woodwind instruments.
Watch a short video excerpt from the first day of Eyongakpa's live sessions at CCA Library above; and listen below to a recording generated during subsequent mbi eshobi inter-sessions with Jere Ikongio, Busayo Olowo, Soft Mix, Jibril Adewumi Africana and Joshua Akubo, which drew upon Eyongakpa's creative methodologies, extending out into a collective recording workshop in neighbouring streets.
Image above: Em’kal Eyongakpa, kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ, documentation of an inter-session at CCA Lagos Library, 30 January 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Bɔ́ Bɛtɔk and CCA Lagos. Photo: Kene Nwatu
Video above: Em'kal Eyongakpa, kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ (excerpt), video. Day one of inter-sessions (sonic lectures / live sets) within the installation at CCA Lagos Library, 30 January 2020. Video: Kene Nwatu
Audio below: Em’kal Eyongakpa, kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ. Mbieshobi sessions following on from sonic lectures / live sets at CCA Lagos Library, February 2020. With Jere Ikongio, Busayo Olowo, Soft Mix, Jibril Adewumi Africana and Joshua Akubo. Courtesy of the artist
Within Tahjèsè #3i / barɨŋ báchɔ́kɔrɔk #4 at The Showroom, Eyongakpa created a series of water-based polyrhythmic sound sculptures. These functioned as semi-autonomous ecosystems in which water flowed downwards from reservoirs of fluid held inside dried calabash vessels; through six medical-grade tubes conceived as ‘veins’ or ‘tentacles’, which then rhythmically released drips down onto drums - or membranophones - and gathered in plastic troughs beneath, from where the liquid was re-pumped back up to refill each calabash reservoir in an ongoing cycle.
In each sculpture, five of the ‘veins’ were set to rhythmically interrupt the water’s flow onto the membranophones below, creating a simple, perpetual beat. However the sixth ‘vein’ was set and locked to a specific time signature, which mimicked rhythmic variations from the Cross River region of former Southern Cameroons and the wider Congo basin.
The sounds generated were picked up by waterproof microphones and fed into a granular synthesiser through which they were distorted, accentuating deep tones (recurrent with membranophones from the Cross River), as well as shaken and plucked ideophones.
The setup as a whole was controlled by a custom-made live interface, e-MungoWest #7, which controls flows in the water-fuelled sound sculptures, which in turn are dependent predominantly on atmospheric pressure.
Em'kal has carried the core aspects of this total setup from his installation at The Showroom, re-installing and re-presenting them in new contexts and live sessions such as kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ at CCA Lagos. He continues to do so back at his studio, Bɔ́ Bɛtɔk / Bijlmer in Amsterdam, within the installation mɔ ntaï Tabinde.
Images above: Em’kal Eyongakpa, kɛrakaraka #3-i / mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ. Mbi eshobi sessions following on from sonic lectures / live sets at CCA Lagos Library, February 2020. With Jere Ikongio, Busayo Olowo, Soft Mix, Jibril Adewumi Africana and Joshua Akubo. Photos courtesy of the artist
Images below: Em’kal Eyongakpa, Kɛrakaraka #3-i / Mɔ́ ntaï bɛrrɛ, documentation of an inter-session at CCA Lagos Library, 30 January 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Bɔ́ Bɛtɔk and CCA Lagos. Photos: Kene Nwatu
Em'kal Eyongakpa was born in Mamfe, Cameroons and is a Dutch resident, currently based in Amsterdam. His practice extends to self-organised community research spaces and autonomous art hubs, from KHaL! SHRINE in Yaounde (2007-2012) to the recent research platform and fund Bɔ́ Bɛtɔk / ɛfukuyu. Eyongakpa holds degrees in Plant biology and Ecology from the University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon, and was a resident at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. His work has recently been exhibited at the Jakarta Biennale (2017), 13th Sharjah biennial (2017), La Biennale de Montreal (2016), 32nd Bienal de Sao Paulo (2016), 9th and 10th Bamako Encounters (2011, 2015) and 10th Dak'art Biennale (2012).