Ex Situ is a multimedia performance, interactive sonic sculpture and audiovisual work which explores how human beings can exist in past, current and future homeland(s), simultaneously and the fragile technological threads on which this multidimensional existence is suspended.
The work is partly inspired by Maxine Burkett’s notion of a “Nation Ex-Situ” – a nation of stateless people no longer able to live in their physical homelands – highlights the growing number of people who have lost the physical location of their former home but maintain bonds despite living in disparate location(s) and home(s).
The origins of this sculpture lie on a dusty road leading to an immigration detention centre on the outskirts of Trapani in Sicily where the artists Hyenaz and Yusuph Suso first encountered each other.
As part of their Foreign Bodies project, Hyenaz were attempting to map the physical and intellectual structures that manifest around the phenomenon of human bodies in motion and migration and the countervailing attempts of governments and other actors to regulate, instrumentalise and profit from this phenomenon.
Yusuph on the other hand was acting as an interpreter for migrants navigating the bureaucratic and legal intricacies of the Italian migration system, a system that he had himself navigated a few years earlier.
In the few minutes that he could spare, Yusuph explained a little of his journey from Gambia, and that he was a singer from a long line of court musicians stretching back to the ancient kingdom of Mali. A week later the three artists met in Palermo and made a set of recordings – both interviews in English and vocals in Mandinka. In the months that followed, Yusuph sent a set of videos from a visit home to Gambia that he made on his phone.
Hyenaz remediated this archive of video and audio recordings into Ex Situ, a single, with a remix by Sky Deep, and a music vdeo. From the same material, Hyenaz developed a levitating sound sculpture, comprised of a network of scratched and damaged mobile phones, counterbalanced against one another in space. Each phone loops a sound and visual element at random intervals to generate a sonic artwork that is never the same in any given moment.
Visitors are able to contribute their own stories of movement, motion and migration through a web interface accessible by smartphone or computer and these works will be musically transformed and integrated into the sculpture.
By drawing us into a hive of dreams and memories Ex Situ reminds us of the importance of connection even as human lifeworlds sink, dissolve, or are displaced.
TEXT + VOCALS: Yusuph Suso
VIDEO: Yusuph Suso
VIDEO EDIT: Hyenaz
Supported by Musikfonds