SERAFINE1369: A Continual Cry
4 November 2021 to 16 January 2022
The video installation A Continual Cry explores liveness in the absence of the performer’s live presence. Programmed so as not to repeat, the video is a jarring, fragmented work, ever unfolding in the here and now.
“Sometimes I think that the life of my body, its vibration, is a call, a continual cry.” — SERAFINE1369, Gropius Bau Journal, 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected the ability of performers and audiences to come together. Time away from performing live led SERAFINE1369 to think about all the performances that had already happened as material for new work, reimagining their archive as future possibility rather than historical resource.
In A Continual Cry, an algorithm selects and plays at random one minute segments of SERAFINE1369’s trailers, videos from live shows and performance documentation. These machine selections are overlaid by the artist’s voice performing the role of the talking clock, an eerie “continual counting of colonial time, the clock, marking each minute, describing and archiving the moment the present slips into the past.”
SERAFINE1369 engages deeply with questions of intimacy, technology, alienation and boundaries. As the Gropius Bau’s In House: Artist in Residence 2021 they have been investigating what they term “Oracular Practice”. This is the idea that movement and dance can act as tools for divination, and that such messages can find form through choreography.
SERAFINE1369, previously known as Last Yearz Interesting Negro (2016–2020), is the artist and dancer Jamila Johnson-Small. They work with dancing as a “philosophical undertaking”, as a “political project with ethical psycho-spiritual ramifications for being-in-the-world”. Recent projects include from darkness into darkness at Tate Britain, London (2021) and I I I (something flat, something cosmic, something endless) at Liverpool Biennial (2021). The first iteration of A Continual Cry was commissioned by Tai Kwun Contemporary.