By Elizabeth Schippers // June 24, 2020
With a global pandemic in full swing and anti-racism protests taking place all over the world, one turns towards their community for care and support. As we look at the past and turn our gaze towards the future, it becomes clear that we have always relied on these interdependent relationships and that we have a shared responsibility to create a sustainable and viable future that builds upon local, communal structures. It is with this socio-political context in mind that ACUD MACHT NEU has announced their upcoming program, COLLECTIVE PRACTICES. The program of COLLECTIVE PRACTICES is divided into four clusters called “Explorations”. Artists are invited to engage with the concepts of Narrative, Knowledge, Care and Resistance, and explore the ways in which these thematic explorations interact in a myriad of different assemblages, creating a virtual space to experience, negotiate and practice collectivity with all participants.
One of the ways in which COLLECTIVE PRACTICES explores community and facilitates space for the exchange of individual ideas is through collective listening. The artist Lyra Pramuk, based in Berlin, invites people who see music as a vital part of their practice to join her in her monthly discussions on music. ‘Zusammen Zuhören’ is constituted as an online platform for shared listening and exchanging perceptions, ideas and skills around music, sound and performance. It aims to foster connections across a wide range of disciplines and practices through listening and discussion. The participants are requested to submit a piece of music that has a special meaning to them. With the small group of participants, Pramuk engages with the practice of “deep listening,” making space for interpersonal connections, different approaches to soundscapes and varying impressions of hearing, ultimately arriving at a collective understanding of music. We are spurred to reflect on the role of song and to ask ourselves whether there is a place for musical material such as sampling, composition and song. In these dark times, will there also be music? If so, how does this manifest itself in, among and within different communities? Will there be singing? As Bertolt Brecht famously answers: “Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.”
With ‘Archiving the Mo(ve)ment,’ Okhiogbe Omonblanks Omonhinmin establishes links to the aforementioned focal points and explorations. Over the course of the programme, COLLECTIVE PRACTICES provides a platform for the Nigerian cultural producer and archivist Omonblanks to facilitate and document collaborative oral histories of Black, African diasporic and African people to counter predominant white and colonial narratives. With ‘Archiving the Mo(ve)ment’, Omonblanks engages in a critical intervention with these oppressive narratives and colonial structures of knowledge. Combining personal stories with the collective practice of creating narratives, he aims to expand on the narratives of African and Black identities, reclaiming ownership over their own stories and bringing about an increase in visibility of stories coming from various backgrounds. The discussions, conversations and performances included in the COLLECTIVE PRACTICES series are part of a larger, ongoing project, ‘the Art Concept’. This particular chapter of the project centres around the current global pandemic and explores the role of community as a space for providing care and support. The project links together the Black and African communities in Berlin with artists and speakers from Omonblanks’ residence in Accra. With these ongoing conversations Omonblanks aims to provide a safe space where these communities can create collective narratives that are representative of their own experiences and shared visions for the future.
The COLLECTIVE PRACTICES series provides a myriad of options to participate directly with the development process of the program that will take place during the coming months. Besides taking part in Pramuk’s monthly online music listening and discussion group, and listening or participating in conversations expanding narratives of Black and African identities through Omonblank’s archival practices—such as the upcoming virtual studio visit with Accra-based artist Eric Gyamfi—you can join a workshop aimed at concretely imagining the future we want to experience, organised by Lisa Pettibone and Dylan Harris. The COLLECTIVE PRACTICES website will function as an archive of these collaborative processes, a collection of resources on the discussed topics, and a meeting place for visitors from all over the world.