Taking the Danish tradition of communal group singing as a starting point, Angelica Mesiti’s Mother Tongue explores the way diverse communities in and around Aarhus connect to their cultural heritage through music, dance and song.
The work was produced with the participation of a range of performers from Aarhus including school children, employee’s of Aarhus Kommune, the Ramallah Boy Scouts troupe, the Jaffra Dancers, Gellerup Circus School and residents of the housing development, Gellerupparken. From popular radio hits to traditional folk songs, Somali blues, marching drills and wedding dances, Mother Tongue explores a series of communal, creative activities shared across the urban, civic and residential spaces of one European city.
Mother Tongue uses music as a way to sketch a portrait of society as we see it today, where individuals and groups seek ways to maintain their own cultural values while integrating into a new place rather than assimilating. Musical tropes like synchronicity, harmony, dissonance and discordant associations build to generate an image of juxtaposed realities. Mesiti has created a complex new melody where traditional and newer unexpected rhythms can evolve.
Commissioned by Aarhus 2017- European Capital of Culture with additional funds from the Adelaide Biennale.
Images: Installation view O space Aarhus, presented as a part of the European Capital of Culture Aarhus 2017 programme. Photos by Lucas Adler.