'At the River'

Resonance along the River Nile. Kenya takes Afrikan music to London.

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"What's changed since I was born? It's like your generation is starting over, instead of remembering everything that came before."

Grandpa

Nature and technology provide us with ways to communicate beyond our lifetimes. Society has great interest in ensuring that technical knowledge is passed down through generations, but we aren’t as skilful at doing the same for our emotions, creativity, empathy and humanity.

Rivers are the arteries of the planet and crossroads that attract, heal and create life. In nature they represent a meeting point for species to feed, breed, rest and play. In human society, they play a key role in cultures, commerce, rituals, and technologies.

The same cultures that were built around the world’s rivers are now at threat due to sea level rise, pollution and ecosystem destruction. In Kenya and across the African continent, people are feeling the stress on water access and quality.

Development sketches

At the River, Kenya at the London Design Biennale 2021.

‘At the River’ brings together researchers, makers, musicians and other Afrikan creators to build a musical, visual and emotional representation of the London Design Biennale 2021 theme ‘Resonance’.

Visitors to the experience (physical and digital) will gather at a representation of a river and create a united sound. They will be able to keep and share digital audio recordings of their experience.

The object will take the form of a Lamu dhow made by artisans from local materials (swahili carvings, flip flop rubber etc), with incorporated Afrikan traditional instruments (e.g. nyatiti, mbira, kayamba, marimba, a’dungu, masenqo etc).

Performers will be invited to collaborate and publish an audio-visual album that will share this sound of resonance further; with A/V experience.

The ‘instrument’ itself will be a transportable artefact, and LDB have expressed that suitable exhibits will be invited to tour further, introducing more people to the sound of Afrika.

We’re looking for: musicians & performers, instrument makers, cultural partners, media partners, virtual & digital partners, researchers, funding partners.

The river in this case is also a metaphor for the River Nile, with a plan to integrate elements from countries that share access to it, such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, and Egypt.

London Design Biennale 2021

One of our early concepts, to visualise the flow of a river.
The Selected Space: Room 25 at Somerset House

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