“The idea of surfaces disappeared and I existed somewhere in a mist of vibrations. They were comforting, surrounding, my weight existed within it. Something in the back of my thoughts was changing and shifting, healing a little, being arranged into a shape that made more sense, that could be understood and integrated.”
The sound experience is bracketed by reading and written reflection as follows:
Beginning in a waiting area, the audience member is instructed by the work’s minder/operator to read a small, black book of concrete poetry, which alludes to the impact of insidious abuse within intimate relationships and its connection to symptoms of anxiety, depression and so-called mental illness (this same book accompanies Thembi’s Love Songs CD, released on ROOM40, a companion piece to Held Down, Expanding).
Once they have finished reading, the audience member is guided by the work’s operator into a large, black structure and seated within a central recliner chair. The operator enters the structure, latching the door behind them so only a small amount of red light remains. For the audience member, the light becomes so minimal they are barely able to perceive the environment they are within. The operator then raises the audience member’s chair, reclines them, and pulls them back into position between two central speakers – the audience member in a state of complete submission.
The operator switches out the light so the space becomes pitch-black and the sound begins. With nothing to orient them, the audience member becomes lost in an expanding and contracting sound field of perceptual ambiguity, a meditative space and mirror into their own perceptions, emotions and mind.
Once the listening session is complete, audience members are invited to reflect upon their experience and read the reflections of others who have experienced the work before them.
Held Down, Expanding
An article discussing Held Down, Expanding at MOFO can be found here and a podcast with an interview with Thembi alongside other artists at MOFO here.
Thank you: Liquid Architecture, Creative Victoria, Brian Ritchie, Shelley McCuaig, The SUBSTATION, Brad Spolding, Joel Stern, Danni Zuvela, Georgia Hutchinson, Debris Facility, Robin Fox, Byron J Scullin, Jeffery Hannam, Vanessa Godden, Creative Clunes, Richard MacKay-Scollay, Clunes Neighbourhood House and the crew of volunteers in Melbourne and Clunes – Yonke van Geloven, Rebecca H Russell, Sharalyn Rozanski, Esther Grant, Tessa Ambrose, Dave Budge, Stephen Samuel, Jordan Rozanski, Lorna Fitzpatrick, Richard Manning, Rosina Dulloo, Steve Ambrose, Phil Burnie, Mick Sacco, Brittany Wyper, Elena Betros, Darcy Wedd, Jason Hood, Kelvin Lau, Tim Coster, Jessica Pinney, Mikhail Rogachevsky, Thomas Harman, Zac Cooper and Marcel Feillafe.
Held Down, Expanding was supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.