The first episode of the new season of the Fermynwoods Contemporary Art Podcast features an original audio work by Samm Anga and a discussion with Veronica Petukhov, who is part of the collaborative audio-visual duo Muto Major, with Samm.
The pair responded individually to the theme of Xylophobia, our new two-year programme funded by Arts Council England. The programme is named from the fear of wooden objects or forests, addressing related fears and issues of place and belonging which go to the heart of community feelings of exclusion from both the art world and woodland spaces.
In this new sound work Samm takes a solitary journey into his own psyche and heritage, ruminating on his own fear of nature: water. Through field recordings, sonic representations of Nigerian mermaid song and recorded conversations with his parents, he navigates the listener through a rich ambient soundscape.
The title of the work, Chesime, comes from his Grandfather’s name, According to Samm:
“A man I never met, but project a lot of hereditary expectations onto. Grandfather was a fisherman. He lived as much of his life in water as out of it, if not more. I wanted to begin the research process of the work by delving deeper into my heritage as someone that comes from Rivers State, Nigeria, a nominal ‘river person.'”
The work also features field recordings of Samm singing, whilst strolling through Clootie Well, the spiritual woodland in the Scottish Highlands that centres around water.
A transcript of this episode is available here.
Veronica also responded to the Xylophobia theme through moving image and audio, which you can see below. Veronica reimagined the mythological character of Lisovyk (also known in Russian as leshy or borowy, leśnik, leśniczy, lasowik, in Polish), inspired by Slavic folk tales her grandmother would tell her when she would visit her in Odesa in Ukraine.
For the new season of the Fermynwoods Podcast podcast episodes now feature video on the Spotify platform. Each video is a response to the episode by artist Sapphire Goss:
For Xylophobia our new guest curators for the Fermynwoods Podcast are Marie-Chantal Hamrock and Astrid Björklund. Marie and Astrid have previously collaborated as SUBTERRA for Aerial Community Radio in Aberdeen, which “navigates speculative narratives of the chthonic (of relating to or inhabiting the underworld) through text, poetry, soundscapes and music.” The two will bring their own flavour to a new series of 10 Xylophobia-themed Podcast episodes.
Samm Anga is a Nigerian-born composer, producer, and singer. In his current work, he finds himself questioning the multi-faceted identity of sound in the Anthropocene. After a transitory upbringing, he navigates the ever-complex tussle between Western and Indigenous values, science and spirituality, futurism, and nostalgia.
Veronica Petukhov is a visual artist and VJ, working across creative coding, video editing, 3D rendering and other digital media methods. Born in Italy to parents from the former Soviet Union, Veronica integrates different media in her work, creating augmented reality filters, adding rich layers to her artwork. Her work addresses personal experiences, identity, and political issues.
As Muto Major, Samm and Veronica blur the lines between the audio and the visual, creating an exciting hybrid form that exists somewhere in the realm of music, dance, theatre and visual art. As a collective their digital artwork is highly influenced by the “ready-made” culture the Dadaists brought into the art world, digitalising, and modernising techniques by using online found-footage. Giving life to “dead” material reinvigorates them with purpose, breathing interest into videos that would otherwise have been forgotten in cyberspace.