Browsing the Kingston School of Art and Stanley Picker Gallery websites today for background on their recent exhibition of Korean-inspired fashion and embroidery, I came across something I wasn’t expecting. In a zone of Kingston University’s website called Cold Protein is a series of podcasts of artists’ sound works, conceived to be experienced in specific physical locations.
One of the artists is Zadie Xa, the Korean Canadian artist who has had several London performances in the past few years – the most recent (unless I’ve missed one) at the opening event of Lee Bul’s big exhibition at the Hayward Gallery last year. Xa’s performances involve movement, words, video and music. The podcast for Cold Protein is a collaboration with percussionist Kim Jihye, with whom she has worked in at least three of her recent performances, and is designed to be listened to on the Piccadilly Line starting at Covent Garden.
Zadie Xa: A Sojourn Through Saturn and Across the Southern Sea
Location: Covent Garden Tube Station, London
Directions: Start at the entrance of Covent Garden Tube Station and continue your travels by Underground for the duration of the piece
Duration: 31 min
A Sojourn Through Saturn and Across the Southern Sea by Zadie Xa combines spoken-word narration with traditional Korean percussions and abstract compositions to create an otherworldly soundscape to be experienced on London’s Underground. Starting at the top of Covent Garden Tube Station stairwell, the piece accompanies our descent and travel into the subterranean environment. As we enter the underground tunnels, a journey through time and memory begins.
The work is inspired by one of the trips Xa takes most frequently in London – that to her studio in Bromley by Bow on the Central Line. The hot temperature and harsh noises of the tube evoke an imagery of banshees and ghosts in the artist’s imagination, echoed in the work by ghostly wails and hisses. A Sojourn Through Saturn and Across the Southern Sea also includes excerpts from shaman songs and percussionist rhythms, acting as a supernatural force giving motion to the journey.
Words by Zadie Xa including excerpts from ‘Fish Scales’ by Taylor Le Melle
Musical contributions from Jihye Kim
feat. ‘vILLIANs tHEMe’, produced by Siege the Beat Bully
Zadie Xa is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice spans across painting, sculpture, textile, video, sound and performance. Her work explores and interrogates the spaces created through the overlapping and conflation of cultures that inform notions of self and hybridity. Xa frequently references personal experiences as a subject within the Asian diaspora, creating new and alternative Asian identity narratives often fantastical and within the realm of the supernatural.
Cold Protein is curated by Stella Bottai and Lucia Pietroiusti. Series 1, which includes the above podcast, is supported by Jerwood Charitable Foundation as part of the Site Line digital commissioning programme with Stanley Picker Gallery.