Ayumi Paul: The Singing Project
What if people met singing freely together?
What if an exhibition venue became a place of continuous song?
Ayumi Paul, Artist in Residence 2022, asks how singing – as one of the oldest forms of communication – sparks a connectedness that transcends linear time. Paul understands singing not as a skill-based activity, but rather as an open space for togetherness, by way of listening and sharing tunes and melodies.
Conceived as a collaborative practice and singing sculpture, The Singing Project has unfolded in many fluid forms at the Gropius Bau since the summer of 2021. Arranged as an open score, the five rooms hold space for continuous possibilities to sing together, surrounded by displayed excerpts from Paul’s growing archive. Applying fundamental principles from sound research that calls for an expansion of perspectives, The Singing Project invokes a reciprocal “being-in-relation” through sensing and making tangible a multiplicity of voices across communities.
Through workshops and gatherings in collaboration with other artists and visitors, the project connects the voice with feminist, ecological and social movements. As part of her ongoing research on how resonant spaces are formed, Paul also explores the energetic structure of the Gropius Bau’s architecture, whose history is marked by division and upheaval. The artist works with the vibration field of the exhibition venue itself and examines how it engages with singing bodies in space.
Written in Water (2021–ongoing)
Practice notes, images, sound and dream studies introduce visitors to the scenes behind The Singing Project. Conceptualised as an open score, the archive encourages active and immediate practice and response. It attempts what Ayumi Paul labels “soft archiving”, which includes oral storytelling and understands the element of water, in our bodies as well as our surroundings, as a medium that holds collective memories. Built through a prism of voices rather than by one narrative, this is also a space for echoes, residues and new interrelations.
Sounding Seeds (2022–ongoing)
This series of audio pieces, attuned to the change of seasons, includes breath meditation and story-telling as tools for tuning into hidden registers of sensing sound, Deep Listening and singing. Also playable from the Gropius Bau's website, they are seeds which continue to spread beyond the physical walls of the Gropius Bau.
Here as well as elsewhere (2022–ongoing)
Salzlieder (salt songs) are created through the interplay of the artist’s voice, breath, salt and water. Chance and natural processes act as co-creators of the salt songs, which give an idea of how sound affects matter and how intention and memories crystalise. They are also a process of creating resonance between 4,5 billion years of time, hot lava brought the chemical elements that formed salt to the surface of the planet and the artist's present body carries the same elements.
I Hear You (2006–ongoing)
Ayumi Paul interweaves personal and earth-historical events from the past and future in these embroidered scores. As a way of composing, she stitches the planetary constellations of the points in time when the events took place. Paul began embroidering scores in 2006 in an attempt to create a musical language decipherable beyond the frame of any singular tradition of scoring and musical grammar. Each score sounds on its own, yet all scores sound together as one web. They become one infinite musical piece which we, as humans, are briefly part of. Paul refers to these works as scores because they can be changed, read, heard, and translated into sound.
You are welcome to take off your shoes and spend time on the rice straw mats. The mats benefit the respiratory system and give a feeling of being grounded. A selection of books informing Paul's research for the The Singing Project are available for study. Paul's practice manifests how all we learn and unlearn, and requires on-going action and rest. If there was no rest there would be no rhythm; if there was no rhythm there would be no life.