Songsmith (Fragile Homes)
Collection of unique editions
120 x 25 x 25 cm
M1, marble dust, electroplating, speaker, circuit
Edition 1 of 3 + 1 AP
A golden instrument that repairs or transforms an object or place in order to reveal an aural narrative.
Beginning in 2015 and continuing into 2020, I've been working on a project called Songsmith. In this project I restore broken objects and sites by embedding into them golden sound instruments that I call ‘songsmith’. Once a songsmith is bound within a place or object, the resulting sound sculpture or public intervention responds to a person’s touch by revealing song; individually composed songs that sing of people, places and events as they fall into, and rise from, the vicissitudes of time.
What at first seemed to be a personal endeavor of self healing evolved stochastically over time to resonate with greater societal histories and traumas; connecting individuals, communities, and places. In the words of Ashraf Jamal, “Burchell seeks to understand that within us which can survive ruin”.
Songsmith is above all else an assertion of life and its beauty, not in spite of, but in acknowledgment of ruin. Songsmith refocused my practice as a means to explore and find a ways to preserve the fragile and ephemeral nature of memory, knowledge and experience. Especially the songs, stories, and histories that live inside of silence.
As an evolving project Songsmith it is never complete, rather it sits continuously within my career and life as an artist
The Songsmith (Fragile Homes) collection is part of my greater Songsmith project. This collection consists of bones and remains that I encounters during various expeditions into ancient landscapes such as the Cradle of Humankind and The Great Karoo. I find myself drawn to these vessels that once contained life; drawn to the visible trauma of the bone. The delicate and ritual manner of embedding a songsmith into these fractures transforms the remains into contemplative memorials. Their song, which is an in situ recording of the grounds electromagnetism, comes from my pallet of sound creation that relates to landscape in my work. I uses it here, as an ode to land’s delicate entanglement with life and death.