This week our feature piece is a cross-continental soundscape we created in collaboration with Sydney's Gail Priest for Mira Calix's new project Sihlabelela - an immersive sound-sculpture produced in collaboration with 50 contributors from around the world.
Calix is an award-winning artist and composer based in the Suffolk. Music and sound, which she considers a sculptural material, are at the centre of her works. Earlier this year she released four tracks of found sound and offcuts for her Utopia EP, which was her first release on Warp in a decade.
Her new exhibition Sihlabelela (19 July – 26 August) attempts to create an artwork by establishing a temporary community; a community that contributes to, maintains and diffuses the sound-sculpture in both the physical and non-physical landscape. The title, Sihlabelela, is Zulu for ‘we sing’, and a personal reference to the large gatherings of the Nazareth Baptist Church communities who congregate in parks and open ground around Durban, South Africa where Calix grew up.
For this project, Calix has created a ‘permutation poem’ and asked both friends and strangers to sing a version – creating their own melody and tempo. Calix is now working with a group of participants from around the world who will help expand and modulate this unique composition. When Calix asked Ears Have Ears to participate in this global sound-sculpture, we invited Katoomba-based sound artist Gail Priest to expand the piece, and you’ll get to hear the results on our show tonight!
“The work”, Calix explains, “is about communing and collaborating, receiving these little songs into my inbox has been delightful, the intimacy of hearing the vulnerability of the lone singing voice has brought me much joy and I so appreciate the faith and trust people have put not only in me, but in the artwork itself. The willingness to contribute and be part of this temporary community is particularly heartening in our current, very much divisive political climate”.