In this listening session, Nkisi shares her sonic influences for Sènsa, her Performa 19 Commission conceived in collaboration with Paul Maheke and Ariel Efraim Ashbel, presented at Abrons Arts Center.
When we recognize sound as a living entity, embodied through the modulation of frequencies and the complexities of audibility and inaudibility, sound becomes an expression of the yet unknown. Sound exists in a visceral continuity of the acoustic field that merges various inseparable elements of space, time, and resonance. Mutating sound events trigger awareness in the listener able to approach hidden dimensions.
Drawing on the notion of “skin of time” coined by the late Spectralist composer Gérard Grisey, Nkisi examines the perception of sonic rhythm and cosmic temporalities expressed in Bantu and Dogon cosmologies.
Melika Ngombe Kolongo, AKA Nkisi, is a headliner on the European experimental music circuit. Born in Kinshasa in 1985, Nkisi grew up in Belgium and studied at Narafi Arts Schools in Brussels and Birkbeck University in London. Over the years, Nkisi has championed exploring music and sound within a decolonial context. A recent example is Nkisi’s night of concerts and DJ sets titled “Same Same Night II” that she organized at Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Gent as part of the art center’s program “Same Same but Different,” a festival that examined Belgium’s history and its contemporary inscription within a global postcolonial network. Nkisi’s debut EP, Kill (2017) received critical acclaim from Pitchfork, Tiny Mixtapes, and FACT. Her latest solo album, 7 Directions, was released in January 2019.
Sènsa is co-commissioned and co-presented by Performa, Abrons Arts Center and Red Bull Arts New York. Co-curated by Charles Aubin (Performa) and Ali Rosa-Salas (Abrons Arts Center), Sènsa is supported by the Performa Commissioning Fund, Arts Council England, FUSED (French U.S. Exchange in Dance), and the Flemish Minister for Culture. This project has been selected and supported by the patronage committee for the arts of Fondation des Artistes. With additional help from ICA London. A first iteration was developed in collaboration with Block Universe, London.