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Arnolfini - est 1961

Nottsong is a performance for spoken and sung voices, electronics and multiple languages written and performed by Caroline Bergvall. With new vocal composition by Gavin Bryars.

Nottsong is an ambitious and immersive audio-visual performance for two voices, spoken and sung, electronic projections and a sonic installation in multiple languages. It includes a new vocal composition by Gavin Bryars, sound design by Jamie Hamilton, film projections by Andy Delaney, electronic text by data artist Mianlin Hu, and voicework by mezzo-soprano and improviser Rosie Middleton. Fusing words, voices and music, film and electronic text-work into a singular, dreamlike and mesmerising whole, Nottsong is both ancient and contemporary, personal and political, and explores what it means to be in the dark. 

Written for our urgent times, material is drawn from conversations with speakers from very diverse languages, and reflects on the nomadic and migratory reality of language, against our own current divided backdrop. Nott is the female personification of night in ancient Nordic mythology, and the text is also in part inspired by the Nordic creation myth of the Voluspå, spoken by the seeress Heidr at the start and end of times. Nottsong is performed at the Arnolfini on the night before the autumn equinox, and ritualises the start of a long seasonal night.

Bergvall’s subtle and varied voicework expands into a complex, multi-layered and enveloping sound design by Jamie Hamilton, and echoes across the dark, hypnotic patterns and landscapes of Andy Delaney’s filmic material. Language and languages, speech and song, breath patterns and electronic frequencies are all at work in these mesmerising and unique poetic variations. She seeks to foster a renewed understanding and imagination of the deep connections and richness of our multilingual worlds, and to advocate ancient and new routes of transmitted speech and song into a powerful, ecopoetic, mythic, transformative experience.

Also featured is the electronic algorithmic text-work “Passengers Passages” specially commissioned by the Rivers Institute for Contemporary Art and Thought, New Orleans.

[An] ambitious meditation on the way people, birds and words live in perpetual migration is a performance by Norway’s Caroline Bergvall staged in the Sea Cadets’ Hall among ensigns and pennants and walls painted navy blue. on Conference of the Birds, Jonathan Jones, The Guardian

Bergvall’s Nottsong has developed a poetic thought of breath as a practice of deep listening, as a process of being vigilant and present, and, finally, as a bridge, or a journey that we can’t take alone. Lucia Farineti, Art Monthly

The power of Caroline Bergvall’s poetic and sonic creation comes from her work on languages, which gives her output an incomparable dimension.’ Serge Lasvignes, President of the Center Pompidou

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