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Barby Podcast

Barby Podcast

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Categories:Topics, Art & Design
Published by: e_192881701 on Jun 24, 2012
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06/08/2014

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Podcast: South London Black Music Archive
Panel: Barby Asante in conversation with chair Paul Goodwin, independent curatoron Black Urbanism? Other Panel members include Lindsay Johns from Leaders ofTomorrow; Wozzy Brooster from Midi Music and Emily Druiff, director of PeckhamSpace.
Description: Commissioned artist Barby Asante discussed key themes thatinform her work including black music within the broader context of collaborativepractice.
Barby:
The project actually started with the engagement with the engagement withthe young peolple from Leaders of Tomorrow which resulted in the record. So howthat worked is that I floated my idea of memories and music memories
 –
 
which I’d
done work on before
 –
and did a piece in Bristol about the first Black Music
nightclub. And so music is something I’m interested in and the chance to work with
young people was interesting because to find out what think about it. The proposalwas to get them to go to their parents and ask hem about music that they hadlistene
d to that they’d pass down
to their children. So that was the question that kindof led to Legacy Tunes. And we got them to record a story about that and so it wasquite nerve racking for some of them. So then I took those and then I went out in toPeckham and recorded and collected music and made a soundscape which islegacy Tunes
 –
and I see as part of them archiving their stories so to speak
 –
and sothat was the first part of the South London Black Music Archive and it was created bythe
 Paul:
I want you to unpack the key 3 terms in the title of your exhibition. SouthLondon. Black Music. Archive. So South London obviously relates to a particular to alocation
so it’d be interesting
to find out about your link to South London
 –
and whySouth London. I think about with South London -
I’
m a North Londener not a SouthLondoner.
Crowd oooh and laughs
I declare that interest now!
So I’m not an expert on South London but it does have
some very particular associations and memories for me places I used to listen tomusic in. And so I know place and location is very important in your work. Then
there’s also the thing of Black Music. We’ve talked before about what you’re vision
and take on Black music is
 –
 
but it’s a very contended term is Black music.
Some
people come in to gallery apparently who have objected to ‘well why is it called blackmusic?’ does that make sense anymore? Maybe it made sense in the 70s and 80s
when Black music was a genre where as now Black music in many ways is prettydominant so why call it Black music? And the third thing is this notion of Archive. If itis an open artchive and what does that mean to you as part of your art practice?
Barby:
 
If I’m going to creat
e a piece of work I do like to reference the location. So forone I was working in Peckham and in Peckham Space. But then also I was just
 –
I
 
am a South Londoner born and bread
 –
and I wanted to extend the invitation
 –
Iknow as South Londoner so many places, things themes. So nice to tell a story ofthat space and looking for people visiting space in Peckham Square will relate as arefrom South London. Interesting in mapping places and spaces in South London
 –
 trigger for them to be involved. They will recognize places, have memories of places,been involved in places. And many have.
Paul: I’d imagine generational differences between older people who come in andremember stuff and younger…
 Barby: Absolutely, people talk aboutcertain places as something and someone says
‘I remember that as a cab station’ –
 
it’s very ephemeral –
some places have movedand disappeared and come back. Music genres do all of that as well. Thoughtinteresting to get in one places. So moving on to that to the story of Black music. Igot in to music by recording music on my dads real to real
 –
and about 10 or 111when dance craves came out
 –
I got in to the Specials etc and because I was trying
to forge my own sort of identity. And you think yeh it’s pop music. Then you realize
as yo
u sort of pull out birth control from your dads collection and go ‘oh actually thisis black music’ and for me it’s always been this evolving hybrid thing. And if you goback to Blue’s in America –
kind of starting there sort of came about because it hadto. Hybridisation/ It was not pure African singing it was influenced using theinstruments that werw available
 –
guitars. Different kind of things people were using
to make music. Washboards etc. I don’t think it’s associated any more with colour.
Paul:
So you don’t see it as a Racial market?
 Barby: Not anymore.
Paul: You don’t see it as a sort of nostalgia? Black music in many respect is sodivergent and difuse now and it’s kind of merged with pop music
. I sense the ideaod a SLBMA is a kind of
nostalgia to when…
 Barby: Not really for me. I think it could be for some people..Paul: For my generation?(audience laughs)Barby: It could be but SL association I decided on an Open
 Archive because… I visitarchives a lot but I think they’re quite ina
ccessible for a lot of people even though
they’re always asking people for stuff. Regular people’s histories and collections.How do you bridge that/ get there if you’re in this rea
lly kind of aacdmic space
 
Paul: At that point let me bring in `Emily Druiff director of Peckham Space. Emily canyou say a bit more maybe about socially engaged art where the final object is not theactual point of the thing
 –
very diffiferent way of understanding art now. But there area lot of people who you know critique this kind of work
 –
 
say it’s community work andthat it’s not really art. How do you approach that attitude when programming the
space?
Emily: Generally I say ‘bring it on’. If it’s Community Art then let’s reembracecommunity art if that’s what people want to call it but personally that’s now what I call
it
 –
 
because I think well what is community? You’ve got to always identify who you’re
 
working with and who you’re talking about and I think that’s a really kind of 
amorphous term to say you know, community art
 –
 
but I think it’
s really exciting tolook in to projects on a specific basis and to say
 –
well at that particular point in timethis was the outcome and it is unique to that social dynamic. It is almost like aphotograph in a way. It can kind of bring in those kind of relationships .Paul: Now bring in Lindsay Johns who works with Leaders of tomorrow. Perhaps youcan say a bit about that. And also
 –
how did a grou[p like LoT end up working withPeckham Space?Lindsay: What is LoT? What is it all about? Are any of you familiar with the music
channel MTV Base? The best way to describe what LoT is is anti MTV base. We’re
not about gangs and rapping or walking down the highstreet. In answer to yourquestion what has leaders of t
omorrow got out of this project…
 First, the young people are from local estates and unfortunately by nature of their
background and their postcode they’re ostricised, they’re marginalized from the
conversation. So having access to something which is very tangible and a verypositive platform through Peckham Space has been excellent
 –
a really valuable
learning experience for the young people. I’ve also been interes
ted in seeing how the
young people have developed. There’s an old school Jamaican singer called Shaba
RanksCrowd
 –
 
He’s not that old school! (laughs)
 Lindsay: Well late 80s early 90s

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