Sènsa: Paul Maheke,
Melika Ngombe Kolongo (Nkisi), and Ariel Efraim Ashbel, Hoxton Hall, Block Universe. Photo: Manuela Barczewski
The Bourse de Commerce — Pinault Collection is hosting the debut performance in France of Sensà by artist Paul Maheke, in collaboration with composer Nkisi and the artist Ariel Efraim Ashbel.
Sènsa is preceded by Sequences (True Sentiments), a performance by Brazilian and raised in Switzerland multidisciplinary artist PRICE from his debut album released in 2021 on Latency.
Combining sound, light, and movement, Sènsa is Paul Maheke, Nkisi, and Ariel Efraim Ashbel’s most recent collaboration. Playing with motifs of presence and withdrawal, the performance insists on the sensorial. A blurring of the field of vision is at the heart of Sènsa, a Bantu word that translates as “coming to visibility,” “to appear from far away,” or “to reveal itself.” Informed by Dr. Kimbwandènde Kia Bunseki Fu-Kiau’s 1991 book African Cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo: Principles of Life and Living, Sènsa positions the cosmology of the Bantu-Kongo as a point of entry which grounds the performance in a diasporic imaginary. Sènsa brings to the fore voices often marginalized in Western-dominated history. The performance oscillates between visibility and erasure with a lighting system conceived by Ariel Efraim Ashbel while Nkisi’s music alternates between atmospheric waves and forceful musical spasms to create a disorienting sonic environment generated and treated live by sound. Ghostly shadows appear and disappear, mumbled words akin to spells are being cast, and echoes of the building’s vibrations build an intoxicating performance.
Paul Maheke (b. 1985, France) graduated from Cergy School of Fine Arts and is an Open School East alum. Recent solo exhibitions include “A fire circle for a public hearing” at the Chisenhale gallery in London (2018) and Vleeshal Center for Contemporary Art, Middelburg (2019), and “I Lost Track of the Swarm” at the South London Gallery (2016). Selected group exhibitions include “Le centre ne peut tenir” at Lafayette Anticipations in Paris (2018), “Ten Days Six Nights” at Tate Modern in London (2017), and the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale (2017).
Melika Ngombe Kolongo, AKA Nkisi, is a headliner on the European experimental music circuit. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1985, Ngombe Kolongo grew up in Belgium and studied at Narafi Arts Schools in Brussels and Birkbeck University in London. Over the years, Nkisi has explored music and sound from a decolonial perspective. A recent example is Nkisi’s night of concerts and DJ sets titled “Same Same Night II” that she organized at Kunstencentrum Vooruit in Gent as part of the art center’s program “Same Same but Different,” a festival that examined Belgium’s history and its contemporary inscription within a global postcolonial network. Nkisi’s debut EP, Kill (2017) received critical acclaim from Pitchfork, Tiny Mixtapes, and FACT. Her latest solo album titled 7 Directions, was released in January 2019.
Ariel Efraim Ashbel
Ariel Efraim Ashbel (b. 1982, Israel) is a performance maker. He is a graduate of the Jerusalem School of Visual Theater (2006) and holds a BA in philosophy and history from Tel Aviv University (2011). Weaving together a wide array of historical, political, theoretical, and pop culture references, his pieces are interdisciplinary compositions at the intersection of theater, dance, music, and installation. He also collaborates as a performer, dramaturg, and light designer. Ashbel lives and works in Berlin where he regularly collaborates with HAU Hebbel am Ufer, as well as other institutions and festivals around Germany and internationally.
PRICE is a fictional character created by Mathias Ringgenberg (b.1986, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and raised in Switzerland), a multidisciplinary artist working with performance, music, video, and installation. Equally, PRICE is also a construct being used to interrogate ideas around the body, language, the cyclical patterns of the Earth and the existential conundrums which humanity faces in the information age. Previously, his work has manifested at a variety of events and venues across Europe and the Americas, including Les Urbaines (Lausanne), ImPulsTanz (Vienna), Human Resources (Los Angeles), and Galpão Bela Maré (Rio de Janeiro).
PRICE’s voice is the nexus of the music. But it’s also an album steeped in curiosity and the desire to play with space, tempo, and rhythm. At times it becomes a baroque composition, elsewhere a delicate deconstruction of folk tradition. The earthen, historically charged sound of acoustic instrumentation gives way to avant-garde treatment, and so the guitar and piano can become both experimental and conventional, sometimes simultaneously.
Curated by Cyrus Goberville.