Forecast offers artists and creative thinkers from anywhere in the world the chance to work with accomplished mentors toward bringing their projects to fruition. As an international mentorship program with annual editions, Forecast transcends neatly-defined disciplines and genres in order to provide insight into creative production processes, and carve out space for the questions on the minds of the next generation of trailblazers.
For Arts of the Working Class, Rully Shabara, who is acting as a mentor for Forecast Forum 7, has presented his practice and voice on subjects of interconnectedness and decolonization.
An Indonesian musician, Shabara’s main interest as an artist and vocalist lies in exploring the human voice as a medium of creation, and human languages as material for experimentation. A boundary-pushing, genre-bending musician, Shabara is interested in using voice as a tool to discover more about oneself and the surroundings. For Shabara, the “voice can be a gateway to find one’s true sound”. The musician is open to projects connected to human voice and language to be developed through a variety of approaches: acoustic, electronic, performative or highly conceptual. As a mentor, he is seeking applicants who are interested in experimenting with how voice and language can be developed into challenging, explorative and relevant ideas. Shabara has initiated many concept-driven projects centered on the voice’s malleability. This includes navigating vocal range, textures and spirituality in his collaborative project Senyawa (with Wukir Suriyadi), or developing the ongoing language-driven band project Zoo.
AWC: How can voices become a tool of exploration and interconnection between one's own inner self and the surroundings?
Rully Shabara: Voice represents one’s own ideals. Through voice, both literally and figuratively, one can make views and thoughts understood by their surroundings. Voice is also the sound that comes out of one’s unique instrument: the body. To master it, or any instrument for that matter, one should know how to push its limit and manipulate the way air flows through the resonators. Mastering an instrument requires practice of deep focus, of connecting to the mind which powers its sounds. Therefore, the voice is probing inward, and meaningful connection with other people or surroundings can’t be achieved without the exploration of the self, without knowing what ideals one is representing.
AWC: How can voices and sounds become companions of decolonial practices?
RS: If a voice represents one’s ideals, it’s supposed to be unique. Accents, tones, textures and meanings that formulate the sounds our body creates are the product of culture. Cultures can be invasive if they are used as a tool to dominate others. So I think culture – including ideals, voice, sounds, norms, traditions – is a tool of consolidating power. Voices and sounds can be companions of decolonial practices if one knows their own potential, otherwise they can be used to dominate others if they are loud and invasive.
AWC: How does Forecast Forum perceive the voices of the audience, and which voices could be heard at the festival?
RS: I think that is the point of my mentorship approach. We will have to let the nominees decide what voice they would like to share, and how they are going to make the audience perceive it. We want to be surprised and inspired in order to fully appreciate and experience our voices.
Revisit and Reinterpret the Peking Opera
Polyglot Malaysian singer and performer Peny Chan seeks to highlight the cultural traditions as well as the transformations within the Peking opera’s style of singing. Her project proposal aims to deconstruct the opera’s original structure and reconstruct it into a new experimental genre of singing. Chan will use South-East Asian languages and dialects to read and sing traditional Chinese opera librettos, and push the envelope on the accepted sounds within it. Her goal is not to undo, but rather to innovate the genre’s historic conventions in order to carve out space for contemporary impulses.
Argentinian vocalist, composer and conductor Agustina Crespo’s project encompasses a multidisciplinary piece for a vocal ensemble. Crespo’s work, Babel, deals with the study of the instrumental possibilities of the voice outside of semantics, thus expanding to other means of communication and a diversity of artistic languages in pursuit of a common reflection. Crespo uses the myth of the Tower of Babel as a metaphor for the lack of communication in our contemporary society to probe whether music, sound, and timber can be as powerful and impactful as semantics in conveying meaning.
The Liminal Sense
Composer, voice artist and poet Pratyay Raha's project proposal is a sonic exploration into notions such as otherness, marginality, boundary and the body in the Indigenous cultural spaces of West Bengal. How and why do these spaces come to represent the Other? Using his voice, electronics, as well as sonic and visual field recordings, Raha seeks to investigate the role of the human voice in Indigenous traditions. The Liminal Sense will meld different dialects, movements, music, sound, text, and poetry to reimagine a space and time which was once brimming with creative impulses and rich heritage, and is now on the verge of extinction.
More on Forecast Forum HERE.
Banner: Rully Shabara, Zoo. Photo: ©Camille Blake
This Contribution was released with the support of Rudolf Augstein Stiftung, Bundesverband Soziokultur, Neustarthilfe, Beauftragte der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.