Called to Respond, Shenece Oretha, Cell Project Space. Courtesy the artist
Artist Shenece Oretha’s installation at/Tribute is a tribute to M. NourbeSe Philip’s book-length poem Zong! Commissioned for the ICA theatre for the convening Strange Echoes, at/Tribute is a multi-vocal reading of this seminal text. Within this new work, Zong! Is performed across multiple channels of sound and light. Shenece Oretha describes the resulting sound as ‘a polyphonic chorus, chant, song, lament, ritual, wake, memorial, tribute, tribulation and celebration’.
Acclaimed for its experimental approach to the poetic form, Philip’s anti-narrative lament Zong! is cited by Oretha as a living and inspiring force. This poem by Philip is a conceptually innovative polyvocal epic concerning slavery and the legal system.
Poets and members of the Oretha’s community inhabit at/Tribute as voices who collectively read Zong! At/Tribute is both a meeting point and a listening site, transforming the theatre into a space for communion with different speakers, voices and histories. Audiences are invited to go in search of pieces and fragments of text, to listen to the multiple stories unfolding and hear history’s presence in the present.
Shenece Oretha is a London based multidisciplinary artist sounding out the voice and soundâ€™s mobilising potential. Through installation, performance, print, sculpture, sound, workshops and poetry she amplifies and celebrates listening and sound as an embodied and collective practice. Her solo exhibitions include Called to Respond, Cell Project Space, London, (2020), TESTING GROUNDS, Cafe OTO Project Space, London, (2019). Group exhibitions include, SURVEY II, G39, Cardiff and Jerwood Arts, London (2021), Cinders, Sinuous and Supple, Les Urbaines (2019), Lausanne, Switzerland (2019) and PRAISE N PAY IT/ PULL UP, COME INTO THE RISE, South London Gallery, London, (2018). Shenece was recently commissioned to make a new work in response to the sound archive at the British Library as part of the CCA Show â€“ Notes on Play (2021).