Mikhail Karikis and Uriel Orlow

20 January 2016
Installation view of Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow, 'Sounds From Beneath', 2011-2012. Courtesy the artist.
Installation view of Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow, 'Sounds From Beneath', 2011-2012. Courtesy the artist.

Worcester City Art Gallery

The Contemporary Art Society is pleased to present our recent acquisition of Mikhail Karikis and Uriel Orlow’s Sounds from Beneath (2011-2012), first shown at Manifesta 9 in 2012. The work is to be gifted to Worcester Art Gallery as its first entry into a UK public collection.

As a continuation of the artist’s explorations of marginalised communities, Mikhail Karikis’ sound piece and video collaboration with fellow artist Uriel Orlow centres on a disappearing community of former coal miners in Kent.

For the piece, Karikis asked the Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir to vocalise the industrial sounds of a former coalmine based on their memories. The result is a moving ode to an extinct landscape; the industrial chimes and low rumbling hummings attaining a meditative quality as the performance progresses.  The miners tell a wordless story of the strength, loss and resolve of a community built through work and song.

The piece is unconventional in that is romantic but also centres on a difficult political theme that has not yet softened despite the passage of time.  The mine and its complex history is reawakened as the choir returns to their past, standing in solidarity, grouped in a linear formation before the sunken mine that was once their livelihood.  The colliers’ cracked and rough hands mirror the cracks and furrows of the mined earth, further relating their history to the physical landscape.

Sounds from Beneath is a particularly fitting acquisition for Worcester Art Gallery due to the city’s connections to the miners’ strikes of 1984-85 and this addition to the gallery’s collection will reflect a particular point in the Worcester’s political history.

Mikhail Karikis is a Greek/British artist who lives in London. His recent performances and exhibitions include British Art Show 8, Hayward Touring Exhibition, 2015; Art in the Age of Energy and Raw Material, Witte de With, Rotterdam, 2015;  19th Biennale of Sydney, 2014; Ghosts, Spies and Grandmothers, Mediacity Seoul, Seoul Museum of Art, S. Korea, 2014; Inside, Palais de Tokyo, 2014; Assembly, TATE Britain, 2014.


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