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Streets of... 7 cities in 7 minutes - Rich Mix

Exhibition preview

FOLLOWING the delivery of a series of creative memory sessions as part of the Living Archaeology of the Place programme, the new site specific installation of Streets of… 7 cities in 7 minutes opens on January 3, 2013 at Rich Mix.

Streets of… 7 cities in 7 minutes is a video sound installation composed of seven art works, which immerse the audience in a virtual reality of the distinguishing sounds, images and smells of Naples, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tangier, Salvador de Bahia, Lisbon and London.

The project has been designed by the artist Alda Terracciano to uncover the ancestral memory of three historical, intersecting journeys (the Indo-European migrations, the Silk Road, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade) as they unconsciously resurface in people’s everyday life across the globe, through sounds, movements, and common rituals.

Developed over eight years, the work is being presented by ALDATERRA Projects. This site-specific installation has been conceived by the artist in collaboration with the designer Kristina Hertel to provide new ways of engaging with her sensory journey around the world.

The seed inspiration for the installation comes from the artist’s long-term interest and research on the British intercultural landscape and London in particular. As the most diverse city in Europe and as a crossroad of local and global cultural identities, London represents the pivot of a wheel whose rays reach out towards other places in the world in a cultural continuum.

With this in mind, the project aims to reach beyond London, using art to reconnect audiences with their cultural heritage, and stirring up their ancestral memories through a multi-layered sensory immersion in the streets of the cities portrayed in the artwork.

Aiming to question peceived cultural stereotypes, Streets of…7 cities in 7 minutes seeks to break down cultural barriers and re-evaluate notions of migration, heritage and cultural identity.

The project focuses on the observation and extraction of specific memes embedded in everyday life, memes being the units of cultural ideas, symbols or practices transmitted from one person to another through speech, gestures and rituals.

In putting the cultural DNA of the seven cities on display, the artist asks the audience to consider the interconnectedness of the cultures under observation and to reassess the way in which these places are reflected in the streets of London.

In Alda Terracciano own words “art is something that happens in people’s minds. Therefore I conceived Streets of…7 cities in 7 minutes as a space where the interaction between memory, human body and the urban environment should be freely re-interpreted according to people’s own personal narratives and stories.”

This view has organically led to the development of a creative engagement programme called the Living Archaeology of the Place. Digging deeper through the layers of the artworks, members of the public have been invited to take part in a series of memory sessions, aimed at exploring the intersection between art and life, people’s personal memories of the cities and their feelings of cultural belonging.

As a legacy of the principles underpinning London’s Cultural Olympiad, this programme has used art to engage a varied range of Londoners at a number of locations, including the Greenwich Peninsula Festival in summer 2012 and the Red Gallery, as part of the Urban Dialogues Festival, in November 2012.

People’s responses have been exceptionally positive. The photographer Abbas Zahedi writes: “I believe the aesthetic of watching what I can only describe as the rhythm of existence has been a deeply moving and spiritual experience”.

And the participant Julio Silva Filho remarked: “Brilliant. It took me back to my roots and possibly even those roots I always took for granted and had not realised I had, especially body language”.

A display of objects, photos, video recordings and textual comments evidencing people’s interactions with the artworks will be exhibited together with the installation. The public will be invited to contribute to the exhibition through online submissions and a series of interactive activities taking place at Rich Mix during the exhibition.

The exhibition and the public engagement programme are supported by Arts Council England.

To further explore the aesthetic, political and cultural layers of the work, there will be an Artists’ Salon on January 26, 2013 at Rich Mix from 12.30pm – 2.30pm. A panel discussion between artists, activists and academics will raise questions about the impact of free mobility and digital recording on contemporary art practice, the nature of performance, the notion of the ‘theatre of everyday life’, and of sensory cities.

This event aims to unearth the inspirations behind the project and begin posing new questions stemming from the cultural and philosophical nature of the artwork. This is a ticketed event costing £6 and tickets can be purchased from Rich Mix box office.

The artist, Alda Terraciano, will give private tours of the exhibition on January 9 from 2pm to 8pm.

The exhibition continues until January 27, 2013.

Admission: Free.

Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London