“Listening to a Listening at Pungwe” by Memory Biwa, Robert Machiri


  • ©, Memory Biwa and Robert Machiri, Listening to a Listening at Pungwe

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    Listening to a Listening at Pungwe

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    Performance

Artist Statement:


    Pungwe is an interdisciplinary project circling African music with related contemporary arts discourses and spaces. This collaborative practice expands into the current project “Listening to a Listening at Pungwe”. We perform through an experimental platform, “Pungwe Nights”, to track and reimagine transnational sonic cultures in southern Africa. We re(hear)se historical and contemporary recordings between Namibia and Zimbabwe on a reel-to-reel player, turntables and computer. Our practice with sound technology has parallel currents, whilst it draws on research on the use of African bodies in phonetic experiments in colonial linguists and ethnomusicology, we explore the concept of the body as sound technology and translation of voice to various instruments and vice versa.

    Through our performance we engage the possibilities enunciated by technology, the ability as Alexander Weheliye elucidates, ‘to split sound from source’, only to later reframe and amplify the sound within phonographies. We playback Machiri’s mbira tongues (lamellaphone) from Mhondoro, Zimbabwe in response to khoekhoegowab orature recorded by Ernst and Ruth Dammann. We re-code tongues and produce a new loop anchored in the recordings’ socio-historical context and the performers mastery of their instruments. Using the remix framework, we interrogate the preservation impulse of hegemonic archives and permit the notion of an un-originary sound or speakerly texts connected to source.


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