This film was online from 12.00, 22 April 2020 to 12.00, 25 April 2020
To mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day today we thought it would be appropriate to show Mikhail Karikisand Uriel Orlow’s gorgeous and evocative film Sounds from Beneath (2011-2012). Available for 72 hours only due to the generosity of the artists, the film was first shown at Manifesta 9 in 2012 and subsequently gifted to Worcester Art Gallery by the Contemporary Art Society in 2016.
For this piece, Karikis asked the Snowdown Colliery Male Voice Choir in Kent, UK 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 it 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.