Upcoming & Current:
Tuning in a Vacuum, TOWNER Eastbourne, live performance commission of three new sonic sculptures, supported by The Foundation Foundation Emerging Artist Award. 16th & 17th July 2022.
“There’s always a central connecting thing, whether that’s an object or the jelly-like surface you have in these drawings – there’s something that can be gathered around and then transformed by the presence of other people. I really love how in these (drawings), while you don’t have a physical breath, or physical bodies present because it’s a work on paper, that sense of gathering remains, even if it’s in the realm of a potential gathering, a potential togetherness. I find that really moving and really hopeful. I think we’re all trying to envision other possible ways of existence that we didn’t have to before and it’s almost like this is a strategy for that, which I really appreciate being able to see… “. From a conversation in 2020 with Amy Lay-Pettifer. The full interview is on the Aleph Contemporary website.
I make and perform sculptures that are also playable electro-acoustic instruments and tools. I play them with multiple participants and a wider group of collaborators through evolving cycles of making, improvisation and responsive adaptation – each sculpture is intended for shared use and plays out in a politics of negotiation and social rhythm that is channelled through the physical materiality of the sculptures. I have been exploring multiplicity, collectivity and communality through feedback methods of composing and improvising around each sculpture that I develop resulting in films, drawings, scores, live performances and public workshops. I imagine their shared use and rhythmic actions channelled according to their individual physicality and material tensions. The resulting Instrument-Sculptures’ soundscapes are characterised by group dynamics as material and create moments of focus, humour, ferocity, generosity and struggle.
The sculptures bring together a wide range of reference points from ancient musical instruments, the ritualistic and hypnotic material processes of artisan labour, of making and improvising together, to aquatic life forms. Each sculpture continues to evolve as part of a highly sensitive ecology of forms. These respond to the people and location they are created for – whether imaginary, site-specific or a combination of both.
My past works were deeply rooted in the space of the studio, which acted as a laboratory for alchemical transformations of different ideas and materials. It now involves moments when the sculptures are taken out into the world and played by others. Chance and intuition remain intrinsic, where sometimes things happen and at other times they just crumble and collapse – my models, films, scores, drawings, soundscapes and diagrams document this continual process.
I know this is only the beginning of what will be a watchful business, a long looking at and after one another. I am hoping for the very best but, as Ithell wrote: “it is not as easy as might be supposed to compose an effective ritual.” So I am open to your thoughts and am certain that the significance of this small event will grow. I look forward to the reply. Words by Amy Lay-Pettifer in Coil of Days.
“What first struck me about Rita’s work was its fearlessness about using wide-ranging technologies, combining the sophisticated with improvisatory and spontaneous practice. Her drawings showed a real similarity to the freedom, quirkiness, humour and enquiry intrinsic to Stephen Cripps’ sketches.” Anne Bean, Artist, Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award panel, 2015
Do you consider the objects/instruments as temporary in the mediations of collaboration and togetherness? Or are they able to transcend into further sonic embodied experiences beyond the immediate interactions? A question posed to me during a workshop I devised for the Royal College of Art MA Contemporary Curating course.
“Rita stood out as an artist who was very motivated and spoke and illustrated a number of projects that were often ‘off the beaten track’. She already seemed to be wholeheartedly committed, with a number of engaging ideas, for projects that were well-orchestrated in her mind for Thurrock, the local environment and those who live and work there.” Ron Haselden, Artist, Stephen Cripps’ Studio Award panel, 2015
A blog for Towner Eastbourne about my artist-in-residence commission Theatre of Sound in October 2020 here.
A blog about the beginnings of my instrument sculptures, workshops and performances in 2016/17 at Chisenhale Dance Space here.