Ex Situ is a project of HYENAZ and Yusuph Suso, with the work of Lau Bau and Rodrigo Frenk. It is an audiovisual sculpture, a music video and a evolving interactive artwork you can contribute to with your phone or laptop. The work maps the fragile technological threads from which human beings conduct transdimensional lives in past, current and future homelands.
The sculpture consists of a network of scratched and damaged mobile phones counterbalanced against one another as they levitate in space. Each phone loops an audiovisual element at random intervals to generate a musical narrative that is shifting, changing and moving from one moment to the next.
The work is inspired by Maxine Burkett’s concept of a “Nation Ex-Situ” which highlights the rights to association of the growing number of people who have lost the physical location of their former homes, but who maintain bonds nonetheless as they roam across disparate locations.
Wherever human beings are in transit, clusters of phones around power banks and electrical outlets can be observed. Phones help us stay connected to where we come from, where we are and where we are going. They help us navigate and they even become a site of home when they contain all your family and friends inside of them. In these contexts, having electricity and having data is gold.
The phones in Ex Situ carry images and sounds Gambian singer Yusuph Suso whom Hyenaz met on a dusty road to an immigration detention centre on the outskirts of Trapani in Sicily. As part of their ongoing Foreign Bodies project, Hyenaz were mapping the phenomenon of human bodies in motion and the ways that governments and other actors regulate, instrumentalise and profit from this phenomenon. Yusuph, a former refugee, was there to act as an interpreter for migrants navigating the bureaucratic intricacies of the Italian migration system.
In this serendipitous encounter, Yusuph revealed he is a singer from a long line of court musicians stretching back to the ancient kingdom of Mali. A week later the three artists recorded a series of interviews in English and vocals in Mandinka. Shortly thereafter, Yusuph sent a set of videos from a visit home to Gambia, which he recorded on his phone.
These musical and visual elements were sampled and transmogrified by Hyenaz and each given their own place on one of the phones hanging from the sculpture. As free movement not only a human right but increasingly a human necessity, anyone with access to a smartphone or computer can contribute their own stories of home and migration and these will be sonically integrated into the sculpture (hyenaz-exsitu.com).
By drawing us into a collective hive of dreams and memories, Ex Situ reminds us of the importance of connection even as lifeworlds sink, dissolve, or are displaced.
Along with the gallery installation and launch of the web interface, Ex Situ also manifests as a video and EP, with a remix by Sky Deep.
|TEXT + VOCALS||Yusuph Suso|
|COMPOSITION + CONCEPT||Hyenaz|
|SCULPTURE DESIGN||Lau Bau|
|CREATIVE CODE||Rodrigo Frenk|