Voice Recorder

Khoj Studios collaborates with London’s Tate Modern gallery to create an exhibition that explores the power politics of voices,songs and words

Written by Pallavi Pundir | Published: July 3, 2013 4:57 am

Some people do think before talking. And about talking. At the Tate Modern gallery in London,for instance,the honchos brainstormed about the finer details of speech and sound and have created an exhibition around this in collaboration with Delhi-based Khoj International Artists’ Association. “It’s about all modes of articulation and our ability to articulate. Who is allowed to speak? Who is heard? How is the voice used to express dissent and resistance,both in individual and collective spheres?” says Asmita Rangari of Khoj,who has curated

the show titled “Word. Sound. Power” with Tate’s Loren Hansi Momudu. The collaboration between Tate Modern and Khoj is a first for India and brings together eight emerging and established international artists from India and Jordan among other countries.

The title is inspired from the Jamaican band of the ’70s called Word,Sound and Power,who influenced and inspired not only Jamaican and reggae culture,but also promoted freedom of speech among other rights. The exhibition looks at the inter-relationship between text,language,sound and poetry.

Let’s Talk

The participation involves Jordanian artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan,French-Norwegian artist Caroline Bergvall,Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen and Indian artists such as Amar Kanwar,Anjali Monteiro,KP Jayasankar,Pallavi Paul and Mithu Sen.

Poetic Protest

While filmmaker Amar Kanwar’s earlier work A Night of Prophecy (2002) looks at political turmoil articulated through songs and poetry,selected excerpts from Anjali Monteiro and KP Jayasankar’s work Saacha (The Loom,2001) looks at Dalit poet Narayan Surve’s poetry as an alternative voice of political representation. Pallavi Paul presents her poetry through Nayi Kheti (2013) and Shabdkosh (2013),where she engages in metaphysical conversations with the ghosts of poets from different points of history. Her piece takes off from American poet Jack Spicer’s After Lorca,in which he writes to Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca 20 years after his death. Paul follows this up with a fictional narrative in which Lorca writes back.

Surround Sound

Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen’s films Arise and KEST look at the lives of four young men living in the local communities around Tate Modern and Khoj,and find a common culture of hip hop,dance,rap and poetry. “There is a desire to

hear the voices that surround us and attune to a generation who,continents apart,are negotiating their position and finding ways to be heard,” says Rangari.

Mother Tongue

Delhi-based artist Mithu Sen will turn “public readings” at the exhibition into something more meaningful. Titled I am a Poet,Sen’s performances “reclaims” her native language of Bengali in a world dominated by English. She will read from a book of asemic text (wordless form of writing) and invite visitors to record their own readings from the text,urging us to “share in a language that mutually excludes and,therefore,includes us all”.

Dalit Dialogues

Anand Patwardhan’s films will be screened as a part of the retrospective titled “A Cinema of Songs and People”,at Tate Modern. A special segment will screen Jai Bheem Comrade,one of his recent and critically acclaimed films,which focuses on the voices of Dalit poets and activists through a long-standing tradition of street songs,music and poetry. Organised in collaboration with The Otolith Collective,his films will be screened from July 12 to July 28.

The exhibition will be on from July 12 to November 2

at Tate Modern gallery in London,and then travel to Khoj Studios from January 10,2014,to February 8,2014

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