Performance by Julianknxx in the Gulbenkian Garden

The performance Chorus in Rememory of Flight convokes African perspectives of history and culture, at the same time that it seeks to invest local communities with a greater collective awareness of the experiences of the African diaspora.
05 apr 2023

Poet, visual artist and director Julianknxx (the artistic name of Julian Knox) will be in Lisbon to present a participatory performance with a local choir, on 20 May 2023, to commemorate International Museum Day, in the Open-Air Amphitheatre of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG).   

Working closely with local cultural and civic partners, Julian Knox (Sierra Leone, 1987, lives and works in London) portrays collective experiences, documenting the individual experiences of people of the African diaspora in seven European port cities, working with choirs, musicians and local communities. Through music and voice, Black Corporeal challenges dominant perspectives on African history and culture, searching for connections between local communities to forge an awareness of the African diaspora.  

In our society, the right of Black bodies to exist is still threatened on a daily basis by the after-effects of historic oppression and social prejudices. The artist critically examines the relationship between materiality, and the black psyche. The performance embodies this in a call to breathe. The voices of the choir swell on and off: breathe in, breathe out.  

This project unfolds in a series of artist residencies in several European cities through a process of collaboration in which Julianknxx documents individual experiences through involvement with artistic communities, while producing works through a series of collaborative and performative interventions. In Lisbon, Julianknxx’s residency will lead to this performance with a local choir.  

The work will result in an audiovisual installation, which will be presented at the Barbican Centre in London, in autumn 2023. The audiovisual installation will be presented in the new building of the CAM – Gulbenkian Modern Art Centre (dates tbc).  

The film Black Corporeal (Between this Air) will also be shown, in Auditorium 3 of the FCG. This work questions if the idea that our capacity to breathe – an act constantly challenged by everything from air pollution to stress, anxiety and even social prejudice – is more than our lungs’ capacity to inhale air: it is also a reflection of how we live as individuals and in a community.  

Julianknxx combines his experience in poetry, film and performance, dedicating himself to a kind of existential investigation that seeks to find ways of expressing the ineffable realities of human experiences and, simultaneously, to examine the structures through which we live.   

A multidisciplinary artist, Julian Knox is inspired by West Africa’s traditions of oral history to reflect on how we construct local and global perspectives. The artist achieves this reformulation using a repertoire that challenges fixed ideas of identity and dismantles Western historical and sociopolitical linear narratives, in an attempt to reconcile the memory of what it is to exist in liminal spaces of transition. 

Black Corporeal is being co-produced by the Barbican Centre and WeTransfer in collaboration with seven European cities: Antwerp, Barcelona, Hamburg, Liverpool, Lisbon, Marseilles and Rotterdam. In Lisbon the project is being co-produced by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in collaboration with Festival Iminente.

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