ROYCE NG: THE SOMALI PEACE BAND
Exhibition Dates: 12 – 26 October 2013
Opening Event: Saturday 12 October 2013, 2 – 4pm
Social Utopias and Social Agency Panel Discussion: Tuesday 22 October 2013, 6 – 8pm
Somali musician Abdi Mohamed Abdi spent sixteen years in a refugee camp in Kenya where he formed the Somali Peace Band with singer Daacad Rashid. Their music made them famous. Today Abdi lives free in Melbourne while Daacad lives in Nairobi, in constant fear of death threats from Islamic fundamentalists while awaiting the outcome of his application for asylum in Australia.
In 2010, Chinese Australian artist Royce Ng saw Abdi perform in Melbourne and became involved in putting him back in touch with Daacad in Kenya, and re-recording the songs of the Somali Peace Band.
Gertrude Contemporary and Melbourne Festival presented The Somali Peace Band, an immersive three-channel video installation, including interviews with Abdi and Daacad and recreations of their experiences. Using the poignant beauty of their music as a vehicle, The Somali Peace Band project questions the limits of activism and advocacy within the context of art and explores the various forms of ‘the law’ that bind individuals across history, cultures and geography.
During the festival the Front Gallery at Gertrude Contemporary was converted into an open social space with events programmed by the Somali community that will feature shared food, artist workshops, music recording, a poetry reading, a guest curated video reel and an archive of Somali texts.
Royce Ng is a Chinese-Australian artist currently based in Hong Kong. He makes site specific works that utilize digital media, performance and installation, borrowing strategies and methodologies from anthropology and ethnomusicology to create highly collaborative projects that deal with the relationships between economics, politics, technology and aesthetics. Since graduating with a BFA from RMIT in Melbourne in 2010, he has exhibited his works and projects in various galleries and institutions in Australia, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Africa and Europe. In 2012 Ng was included in the Gwangju Biennale and the Busan Biennale in South Korea. He is currently engaged in a project on the economic relationship between Asia and Africa with the anthropologist Daisy Bisenieks for the Johann Jacobs Museum in Zurich, an institute for contemporary art and research focusing on transnational trade routes.
SOCIAL UTOPIAS AND SOCIAL AGENCY PANEL DISCUSSION: Tuesday 22 October 2013, 6 – 8pm, free event, bookings not necessary.
Art and political agency, where do they meet?
At this time of increased urgency for interrogation of legal and political structures surrounding seeking asylum, the Social Utopias and Social Agency Panel Discussion will question the limits of activism and advocacy within the context of art and explore the various forms of ‘the law’ that bind individuals across history, cultures and geography.
Artist Royce Ng, Australian Somali community member Fuad Jama, Director of the Asylum Seekers Resource Centre Jana Favero, Academic and Curator Dr Vivian Gerrand, and Curator Louise Neri will reflect on art and the social, and the experience of displacement, and cultural identity as explored in the Somali Peace Band project.
Somali musician Abdi Mohamed Abdi spent sixteen years in a refugee camp in Kenya where he formed the Somali Peace Band with singer Daacad Rashid. Their music made them famous. Today Abdi lives free in Melbourne while Daacad lives in Nairobi, in constant fear of persecution while awaiting the outcome of his application for asylum in Australia.
In 2010, Chinese Australian artist Royce Ng saw Abdi perform in Melbourne and became involved in putting him back in touch with Daacad in Kenya, and re-recording the songs of the Somali Peace Band. The project, presented by Gertrude Contemporary and Melbourne Festival, includes Ng’s immersive three-channel video installation and an open social space with events programmed by members of Melbourne’s Somali community.
BITTER AND SWEET: SOMALI LANGUAGE AND POETRY: Thursday 24 October 2013, 6 – 8pm, free event, bookings not necessary.
Gertrude Contemporary was delighted to announce an evening of Somali language and poetry readings presented by artist and Director of Burji Arts Nadia Faragaab.
The migration of many Somali from their homeland created a need to recognise the importance of Somali language as a living cultural record. Because of the nation’s love of oral communication Somalia is also known as a nation of poets. Today, the Australian Somali community faces the challenge of reconciling the Somali and Australian language and culture.
Nadia Faragaab was currently developing the Somali English Dictionary application through the Burji Arts Somali Language Preservation Project. This major linguistic project involves the collection of Somali words from all dialects. This initiative has recently been awarded the Vice Chancellors Award from the University of Melbourne. In her discussion Nadia reflected on cultural archiving and the shifting nature of contemporary Somali language in the context of changing communities. Poems were read during the evening by Australian Somali poets Said Farah AKA Shirwa and Munira Jate.
Burji Arts is an organisation dedicated to celebrating Somali art and culture through visual art, performance and Somali language. www.burjiarts.com
THE SOMALI KITCHEN, TALK AND TASTING: Sunday 20 October 2013, 3 – 5pm, free event, bookings not necessary.
The Somali Kitchen will present an afternoon of talks and tastings on Somali food culture as part of the The Somali Peace Band.
The diversity of contemporary Somali food tells the histories of the Somali landscape, Arab and Persian trade routes, British, French and Italian colonialism, the nomadism of the Cushitic culture, civil unrest and relocation in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen, Egypt and Australia.
The Somali Kitchen is a collective of Somali nomads living in Melbourne who share their love of the rich and diverse Somali cuisine through their recipe blog www.somalikitchen.com
Abshiro, Mariam, Shukri and Abderazzaq talked about their favourite Somali dishes and the stories behind the recipes. On Sunday 20 October at 3 - 5pm visitors could join to taste the dishes and hear the history of Somali cuisine.
MOBILE REKODI SITUDIO BEAT-MAKING WORKSHOP: Saturday 26 October 2013, 10am – 5pm, free event, bookings necessary
Royce Ng and John Bartley of Brother Sister Records presented a free workshop on DIY beat making, lyric writing and recording vocals for young local musicians.
This was an opportunity for musicians aged 10 - 14 years old to engage with Somalia’s rich and varied musical heritage. Somali music features collaboration between beat makers, lyricists, and vocalists. Through the partnership between Brother Sister Records and Gertrude Contemporary, participants in the workshop had the chance to actively engage with Somali culture and contemporary music making. Key skills in making and recording music will be covered in the program.
Young musicians aged 10 - 14 were invited to join us on Saturday 26 October at 10am – 5pm to engage in DIY beat making, lyric writing and recording vocals. Spaces are limited.