7 August – 3 October 2020
The Showroom, London and Filmmaker Producer Reece Ewing are honoured to host IN·FLO·RES·CENCE – a new interdisciplinary platform for audiences to encounter compositions and conversations where sound and art can cross-pollinate and regenerate. Championing the power of jazz, this project fosters freedom, experimentation, improvisation, rhythm, polyrhythm, collaboration, dialogue, and sophistication – hard work fueled by epiphanies, a call and response. Social power. Sonic power. It started as an initiative to support musicians and composers in a small way during the COVID-19 pandemic – to connect expressions of everyday life during the unique conditions of our time; highlighting the joy and healing power of music amidst waves of disease, fear, and injustice. By transcending a focus on music as entertainment and celebrating sound as an enduring form of rhizomatic storytelling, the IN·FLO·RES·CENCE project functions as a platform to support musicians in taking up space in the art cosmos and express more pathways for creative practices of sound and art to collide – to summon collective memories, produce future imaginaries, and build a new community.
In its introductory digital stage, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE exists as an unfolding social media platform across Instagram, Vimeo, and The Showroom website whereby audiences can discover music compositions, interdisciplinary conversations, listening sessions, and behind-the-scenes creative inspirations. In order to create opportunities to commission music, share personal experiences, and foster collective conversations, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE brings together 10 Composers, 1 Solo Pianist, a diverse mix of music and art professionals, and an ever-growing global audience. Each of the participating composing musicians (J.D. Allen, Bokani Dyer, Sarathy Korwar, Nduduzo Makhathini, Siya Makuzeni, Elaine Mitchener, Corey Mwamba, Thandi Ntuli, Luis Carlos Pérez, and Leyanis Valdés Reyes) were invited to create a piece for solo piano around 1 minute in length responding to the changes to daily life during the global coronavirus outbreak. These individual pieces will all be interpreted and performed by the project’s first Artist-in-Residence, Cuban New York-based Pianist, Composer, and Band Leader Elio Villafranca, throughout the duration of the project.
These musical offerings will be activated by the commissioned musicians through recorded conversations between each other, Journalist Kevin Le Gendre (Broadcaster and Writer of Don’t Stop the Carnival: Black British Music, 2019), and a group of creative professionals whose practices are deeply informed by sound, including The Showroom Director and Curator Elvira Dyangani Ose; Jazz Musician Jason Moran; Composer Pianist Vijay Iyer; Theorist and Filmmaker Kodwo Eshun; multimedia artists including Phoebe Boswell, Andrew Pierre Hart, Evan Ifekoya, and Laura Lima; and more. The community created will flower into multiple, growing conversations serving as a living archive for expanding jazz within personal, collective, and creative contexts. ‘Every piece has very distinct characteristics’, Artist-in-Residence Villafranca reflects, ‘oscillating between classical, jazz, avant-garde music styles, and others from the Afro and classical Indian music diaspora. I’m learning a lot through the process of interpreting the pieces composed for this project… Such a wide range in the music approached by these artists expands my own musical horizons’.
The structure of multiple voices at the core of this project is inspired by an inflorescence: a cluster of flowers arranged on a stem, comprising a complicated arrangement of branches, further referencing the budding of blossoms – the process of flowering, a moment of unfolding, the stage of development full of possibility and production. This anatomical concept is also eponymous with the 1989 avant-garde album by American Pianist and Poet Cecil Taylor (1929–2018), whose practice has fused sound and art since the 1950s free jazz and New York loft scene through till this decade with his Open Plan exhibition at The Whitney Museum in 2016. As reflected in the meaning of this word, Taylor’s experimental ethos, and the political agency of jazz, this project aims to activate the global history of creative cross-pollination between musical and visual art communities through a gathering of voices reflecting upon the conditions of this unique historical moment. Through these participatory and expansive modes of connection, IN·FLO·RES·CENCE will create a constellation – an inflorescent cluster – filled with multiple voices, active listening, a poetic source of knowledge, and a resonant echo of call and response. A space to breathe, listen, create, and connect.