Ritual Agitations = Vibrations of continuous systems
They resounded unearthly sounds,
To find echoes where rhythm erupts
and pulse and silence hung in the air.
For her solo exhibition at Arcadia Missa, Melika Ngombe Kolongo presents a sound installation titled Resonance (forced vibrations). Considering rhythm, echo and melody as a vehicle for information exchange, Ngombe Kolongo uses sound as a tool for exploring alternative ways of thinking, considering prognostics and cosmology, primarily the African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo. Manipulating what she calls ‘the alchemic possibilities of sound and silence’, or the materiality of the space in between these two points, Ngombe Kolongo’s installation considers the role of sound waves in Bantu-Kongo cosmology. She is specifically focused on the idea that hearing is seeing, seeing is reacting/feeling 1 ; whether audible or visual, all communication is to emit and to receive waves, transmitting and exchanging information through voice and voiceless forces. Through Ngombe Kolongo’s sonic practice, this cosmological concept is considered in conjunction with Édouard Glissant’s idea of an échos-monde 2 , exploring the recurrence of rhythms in the patterns and systems of a world in which everything is resonating with each other.
Sonically, Ngombe Kolongo aims to translate these ideas into auditory markers to be used as tools for reflection. Drawing on the use of sound in ritual, the artist’s research for this show extends into pyramids as echo chambers, Stonehenge as levitation site, sound as knife. Thinking about vibrations as a process through which we experience the world outside of language, this show urges us to consider music outside of entertainment and as a material remedial form. The psycho-acoustic potential of Resonance (forced vibrations), is the means to step away from the representational. “Sound gives us back the visuality that ocularcentrism has repressed” 3 ; when music and performance are used as radical tools, through visionary possession, we can be renewed from within.
Melika Ngombe Kolongo, alias Nkisi, is an Artist raised in Belgium and now living in London. As co-founder of NON Worldwide, whose raison d’etre is described as “a collective of African artists and of the diaspora, using sound as their primary media, to articulate the visible and invisible structures that create binaries in society, and in turn distribute power”, Nkisi’s ethos and music is imbued with a certain punk sensibility along with a political pushback against conformity. Her DJ sets draw from a wide range of influences forming a fast-paced and exhilarating experience in the dance. Her production reflects deeply on these influences also and provide a sound that is equally relentless and evocative. She has performed widely across UK and Europe and curated the 2017 edition of Wysing Arts and Music Festival, Opaque Poetics.
- Kimbwandènde Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau, African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo: Principles of Life and Living (1980)
- Édouard Glissant, Poetics Of Relation (1990)
- Fred Moten, In The Break (2003)