In Counter Harmony
Shenece Oretha invites you to join a choir, a congregation, a classroom and a celebration at the Tin Tabernacle, a church made out of corrugated metal that was erected in Kilburn in the mid-nineteenth century. Oretha’s commissioned installation spotlights the sounds and stories of multifunctional community spaces, including those of the tabernacle’s past, of other spaces in Brent and those of the artist’s own personal history within London community halls.
In Counter Harmony consists of a multichannel soundwork composed of conversations on the ever-changing nature of communal space and its effects on communities and social activities. Throughout the commission, Oretha has held conversations with organisers, youth group leaders, custodians and attendees of activities, and has also recorded choir practices, parties and other rehearsals. These conversations are woven into a soundscape that celebrates the creation of space for the purpose of building community, reflecting on what happens when these places are hard to find, become threatened, or cease to exist altogether.
The title of the work speaks to two phrases that are heard in the recording of Brent’s Reggae Choir rehearsal and that are significant to the building of this work: ‘supporting harmonies’ and ‘counter melody’. Oretha refers back to these musical terms––which are used to describe moments of voices singing together––to create a composition in which different stories are sounded simultaneously, connecting with each other even when speaking of divergent events. Oretha asks us to consider the contrasting feelings between celebration and mourning, revelry and revelation, inviting us to adjust, settle in and reflect on what is made in their meeting.
Shenece Oretha (b.Montserrat) is a London based multidisciplinary artist sounding out the voice and sound’s mobilising potential. Through installation, performance, print, sculpture, sound, workshops and poetry she amplifies and celebrates listening and sound as an embodied and collective practice.
Her solo shows include Called to Respond, Cell Project Space, London, (2020), TESTING GROUNDS, Cafe OTO Project Space, London, (2019). Group exhibitions include, SURVEY II, G39, Cardiff and Jerwood Arts, London (2021), Cinders, Sinuous and Supple, Les Urbaines (2019), Lausanne, Switzerland (2019) and PRAISE N PAY IT/ PULL UP, COME INTO THE RISE, South London Gallery, London, (2018). Shenece was recently commissioned to make a new work in response to the sound archive at the British Library as part of the CCA Show – Notes on Play (2021).
Access key: wheelchair accessible, transcription (below).
Click here for a transcript of In Counter Harmony.