Performance Commission: Recitatif: Never saying anything at all

Steffani Jemison, Promise Machine, 2015. Image courtesy Steffani Jemison.
Steffani Jemison, Promise Machine, 2015. Image courtesy Steffani Jemison.

Recitatif: Never saying anything at all is a performance by Steffani Jemison featuring Harleighblu (Voice) and Marcus Joseph (Saxophone).

What if we need new words to build new social and political relations? In this commissioned performance, two local musicians interpret a musical score written in Solresol, a utopian language expressed through musical notes. The performances translate songs by Smokey Robinson (“Quiet Storm”) and Lauryn Hill (“So Much Things to Say”), as well as quotations from Nella Larsen and Maya Angelou.

Jemison is interested in speech and its inverse, quiet. The title Recitatif is a reference to American writer Toni Morrison’s short story of the same name, which describes gaps, failures, and silences in communication across cultures and abilities. This performance is the second in her Recitatif series, which started with Recitatif: Maybe we need new words., presented at Mass MOCA earlier this year.

Performance timings:

Saturday 11 November 2017

11:30am at Nottingham Contemporary with Harleighblu and Steffani Jemison

3:30pm at INTU Victoria Centre, Nottingham with Marcus Joseph

Sunday 12 November 2017

11:30am at Nottingham Contemporary with Harleighblu and Steffani Jemison

3:30pm at INTU Victoria Centre, Nottingham with Marcus Joseph

The Performance Commissions are foundered by Arts Council England’s Catalyst Fund.

About the Performers:

Steffani Jemison uses time-based, photographic, and discursive platforms to examine "progress" and its alternatives. Jemison's work has been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, Jeu de Paume, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, Mass MoCA, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art, and others. Her work is in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Kadist Foundation. Jemison was born in Berkeley, California, and is currently based in Brooklyn, New York. She is a 2017-2018 Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.

Harleighblu is a nationally and internationally visible soul singer. A Nottingham native, Harleighblu has been involved in music from a very young age. Since releasing her debut LP, ‘Forget Me Not’ (produced by Nottingham hip hop stalwart Joe Buhdha), she has played at major festivals including The Great Escape, Glastonbury, Bestival, Shambala, Boomtown, Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide and Green Man. She performed at Nottingham Contemporary the 60-piece UFO orchestra in October 2017.

Marcus Joseph is a saxophonist, composer, writer, speaker, and spoken-word artist who was classically trained on the clarinet from age seven. He has played in various Leicestershire Arts county bands and orchestras. A brief stint in a hip-hop group as a DJ and MC resulted in airplay on BBC 1Xtra, but after attending a jazz workshop in London, he was inspired to pick up the saxophone full time and studied in Leeds, London and New Orleans. Marcus’s childhood experience as the only African-Caribbean student playing a classical instrument inspired a passion for working with youth to cultivate interest in live music and musicianship.