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Exhibition: Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm (5 June – 1 Aug 2015)

Exhibition Date:
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Sat 13 Jun, 4pm: Tour by curator Christine Eyene

Sat 11 Jul, 8–11.30pm: An Evening of Live Music by artists Larry Achiampong, Julien Bayle and Evan Ifekoya

Thurs 23 Jul, 6.30pm: Curator Christine Eyene in conversation with artist and curator Barby Asante on the relation between music, cultural heritage and urban cultures

Sat 1 Aug, 4pm: Final Day Tour by curator Christine Eyene

All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm is the eighth edition of the DRAF Curators’ Series, with guest curator Christine Eyene (France/Cameroon).

With Larry Achiampong, Younes Baba-Ali, Julien Bayle, John Cage, Ayoka Chenzira, Em’kal Eyongakpa, Jon Hopkins, Langston Hughes, Evan Ifekoya, Zak Ové, Michel Paysant, Anna Raimondo, Robin Rhode, David Shrigley, William Titley.

Exhibition leaflet including essay by curator Christine Eyene online here

The exhibition presents Eyene’s original research into rhythmic sources in performative, material and immaterial productions within African traditional and contemporary cultures. This first exploration of this essential lineage encompasses dance, avant-garde composition, popular music and subcultures and rhythmic video editing through the twentieth century to the present day.

The project takes as a starting point Bikutsi, a fast paced percussive genre using balafons (African xylophones) that emerged in Cameroon in the 1940s. At the same time, Senegalese philosopher Léopold Sédar Senghor developed his ideas on the ontology of African rhythms and their correlation with sculpture in the essay ‘Ce que l’homme noir apporte’ (1939).

All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm traces the integration of African rhythm into artistic practices in the twentieth century. Composer John Cage’s often-overlooked collaborations with African-American choreographers and dancers during the development of his iconic ‘prepared piano’ works include Bacchanale (1940), written for dancer Syvilla Fort (the subject of Ayoka Chenzira’s 1979 film Syvilla: They Dance to Her Drum). Cage composed Our Spring Will Come (1943) for Trinidad-born dancer Pearl Primus based on Harlem Renaissance legend Langston Hughes’ Our Spring (1933), whose rhythmic poetry voices the racial politics and discrimination underlying the era of American modernism.

The presence of black rhythms in the twentieth century also spanned popular music subcultures: William Titley’s sound works document the rise of Northern Soul dance culture in England. Evan Ifekoya looks at cross-cultural translation through drum ’n’ bass dance moves in her video performance Nature/Nurture Sketch (2013).  

Against this backdrop of cultural assimilation by the Western avant-garde, several recent works in the exhibition see a re-appropriation of African rhythmic heritage by contemporary diaspora artists. Larry Achiampong’s autobiographical collection of Highlife vinyl records are included alongside the hybrid turntable/mask sculptures by Zak Ové. Robin Rhode’s Wheel of Steel (2006) photographic sequence shows a vinyl record on a chalk player, with the shifts of the tone arm visually suggesting a rhythmic pattern. Video works by Younès Baba-Ali and Anna Raimondo explore non-musical rhythmic patterns using voice and gesture. David Shrigley’s tragicomic Headless Drummer blindly continues his lively beat. Julien Bayle’s visualisations of rhythmic compositions derive from methods of encoding and algorithm.

Commissions for the exhibition include Michel Paysant’s VOX SILENTII (Eye Composing), 2015, a series of scores composed using an eye tracker, a co-production with Nouveau Musée National de Monaco. A new sound work by Em’Kal Eyongakpa uses contemporary field recordings made in Cameroon, a complement to Eyene’s own research in the extraordinary sound archives of the nineteenth century Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford.

Previous participants in the series include Raimundas Malasauskas (Lithuania), Pablo Leon de la Barra (Mexico) and Natasha Ginwala (India) & Vivian Ziherl (Australia).

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  • Zak Ové, Culture Remix, 2013. 1970s turntable, cast Jesmonite African masks. Courtesy: the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    1/17Zak Ové, Culture Remix, 2013. 1970s turntable, cast Jesmonite African masks. Courtesy: the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    2/17Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Ayoka Chenzira, Syvilla: They Dance to the Rhythm of Her Drum, 1979. 16mm film transferred to video, 30 min. Courtesy: the artist and Cinenova, London.  Photo: Tim Bowditch
    3/17Ayoka Chenzira, Syvilla: They Dance to the Rhythm of Her Drum, 1979. 16mm film transferred to video, 30 min. Courtesy: the artist and Cinenova, London. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • John Cage, Bacchanale, 1940. From ‘Prepared Piano Music Volume I, 1940-47’, Edition Peters, New York. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    4/17John Cage, Bacchanale, 1940. From ‘Prepared Piano Music Volume I, 1940-47’, Edition Peters, New York. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Larry Achiamong, In The House of My Mother #1, 2015. Vinyl record sleeves. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    5/17Larry Achiamong, In The House of My Mother #1, 2015. Vinyl record sleeves. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    6/17Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    7/17Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Zak Ové, The Upsetters (King and Queen), 2013, mixed media; Evan Ifekoya, Nature/Nurture sketch, 2013, video, 6 min 12 sec. Courtesy the artists. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    8/17Zak Ové, The Upsetters (King and Queen), 2013, mixed media; Evan Ifekoya, Nature/Nurture sketch, 2013, video, 6 min 12 sec. Courtesy the artists. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Zak Ové, The Upsetters (King and Queen) (detail), 2013, mixed media. Courtesy the artist. 
Photo: Tim Bowditch
    9/17Zak Ové, The Upsetters (King and Queen) (detail), 2013, mixed media. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Evan Ifekoya, Nature/Nurture sketch, 2013, video, 6 min 12 sec. Courtesy the artist. 
Photo: Tim Bowditch
    10/17Evan Ifekoya, Nature/Nurture sketch, 2013, video, 6 min 12 sec. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Robin Rhode, Wheel of Steel, 2006. Digital pigment prints mounted on board, nine parts, each:
39.4 x 55.9 cm, edition of five. Copyright Robin Rhode, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Tim Bowditch.
    11/17Robin Rhode, Wheel of Steel, 2006. Digital pigment prints mounted on board, nine parts, each: 39.4 x 55.9 cm, edition of five. Copyright Robin Rhode, courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photo: Tim Bowditch.
  • Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    12/17Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    13/17Installation view of Curators’ Series #8. All Of Us Have A Sense Of Rhythm, at DRAF, 2015. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Anna Raimondo, Mediterraneo, 2014, video, 22 min. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    14/17Anna Raimondo, Mediterraneo, 2014, video, 22 min. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Zak Ové, Black Astronaut, 2012. Tree root, painted in bitumen, brass hunting horns, antique tribal mask, crocodile skull, lost shoe soles, copper nails. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch.
    15/17Zak Ové, Black Astronaut, 2012. Tree root, painted in bitumen, brass hunting horns, antique tribal mask, crocodile skull, lost shoe soles, copper nails. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Tim Bowditch.
  • Video for Jon Hopkins - Vessel (Four Tet remix) (still), 2010. Courtesy: Domino Recording, Just Publishing, Bison Productions. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    16/17Video for Jon Hopkins - Vessel (Four Tet remix) (still), 2010. Courtesy: Domino Recording, Just Publishing, Bison Productions. Photo: Tim Bowditch
  • Video for Jon Hopkins - Vessel (Four Tet remix) (still), 2010. Courtesy: Domino Recording, Just Publishing, Bison Productions. Photo: Tim Bowditch
    17/17Video for Jon Hopkins - Vessel (Four Tet remix) (still), 2010. Courtesy: Domino Recording, Just Publishing, Bison Productions. Photo: Tim Bowditch
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