What musical patterns have been preserved in the sounds of the African Diaspora, thus defying time and forced migration? What sonic affinities exist between Luanda, Lisbon and Salvador da Bahia, or between Dakar, Cali and Lima? How did postcolonial appropriations and transfer processes become inscribed in contemporary rhythms across the Atlantic and beyond?
The artist and musician Satch Hoyt takes early music recordings from Angola and the Congo documented by European anthropologists between 1890 and 1907 as the starting point for his project. He perceives them as acoustic mappings of history – testimonies of enslavement and expulsion, but also of resistance, empowerment and liberation. Hoyt brings those early recordings back to their places of origin and traces the sounds of the African Diaspora as far as music scenes of the lusophone triangle across Luanda, Salvador da Bahia and Lisbon. Together with local musicians from the postcolonial cities, he searches for musical connections between the historical recordings and present-day urban rhythms, creating new musical compositions. At HKW, Hoyt presents the various collaborations and outcomes of his research travels in talks, sound-performances, concerts and an exhibition of sonic compositions, video-interviews and paintings that act as unfixed graphic scores, celestial constellations and cartographic displays of the African Diaspora.
Based on his investigation of what he terms “the Migration of the Eternal Afro-Sonic Signifier,” Hoyt samples archival recordings, interweaving them with the contemporary trajectories of this mnemonic network of sounds that continue to bond people of the transnational African Diaspora today. In his exhibition at HKW, large-scale canvases map out the transmigration between continents, enacting pictorial, sonic, spiritual and sociopolitical sensitivities.
This project twists the emphasis in conservation and preservation of conventional archives that transmit “value” only in relation to the past. In turn, Afro-Sonic Mapping transforms already-existing archives by uncovering forms of diasporic memory and tying their lineages to contemporary practices of musicians, artists and authors. The exhibition manifests the production of culture as a living activity and as method that resonates with wider processes of cultural liberation and restitution.
Curated by Paz Guevara
Satch Hoyt: Afro-Sonic Mapping
1 – 17 November 2019
HKW Haus Der Kulturen Der Welt