Assembly returns to Somerset House Studios

PAMDG4 Somerset House With Water Feature At Night London UK

, Assembly, returns for the first time in four years with a multi-day programme from 20th to 23rd March 2024. Featuring a series of brand-new commissions, collaborations, and live premieres, many of which have been developed in residence at the Studios, Assembly puts sound in dialogue with other artistic disciplines and experiments with form. 

The programme features brand-new partnerships with the Roberts Institute of Art, and a number of works will travel internationally to festivals including Rewire in the Hague and Edinburgh Art Festival.

Wednesday 20th March | Brìghde Chaimbeul with Maëva Berthelot and Temitope Ajose: Where the Veil Is Thin / Vivenne Griffin

 | £16.50 | Lancaster Rooms | Tickets here

Opening the programme are the premieres of two new performances from artists Vivienne Griffin and Brìghde Chaimbeul who recently featured on Caroline Polachek’s latest album and tour playing her chosen instrument, the Scottish smallpipes.

In a brand-new commission, Where the Veil Is Thin, Brìghde Chaimbeul joins forces with performance artists Maëva Berthelot and Temitope Ajose in an ode to the enigmatic Cailleach Bheur or “Hag of Winter’, a significant character in Gaelic mythology closely associated with the creation of the landscape and bad weather. Featuring new music from Chaimbeul, together they weave a narrative that evokes the delicate balance between life, death and the eternal dance of nature’s forces. Commissioned by Somerset House Studios and supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations, Where The Veil Is Thin will also travel to Rewire, The Hague, in April. 

‘Antidisciplinary’ artist and long-term Studios resident Vivienne Griffin will also present a new live performance work in collaboration with Northern Irish harpist Úna Monaghan. A historic symbol of resistance to the British occupation of Ireland, the harp is an instrument that speaks to emancipation. Through polarising sonic textures, Monaghan will compete with Griffin’s noise and electronic distortion.

Prem Sahib what you need to know to get rid of these blood-sucking parasites (in the form of a whisper),

Thursday 21st March | Prem Sahib: Alleus / Shenece Oretha | £10 | Lancaster Rooms | 

Tickets here

Co-commissioned by the Roberts Institute of Art, artist Prem Sahib premieres his new performance work, Alleus, the first time Sahib has worked with live vocals A polyphony of  performed and pre-recorded voices, Alleus – ‘Suella’ spelt backwards – re-orders, re-directs and disrupts an anti-immigration speech by former UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman. Performed live by a group of vocalists, and with additional production developed in collaboration with artist Woodsy Bransfield, Sahib’s piece works to resist the damaging  language often legitimised by politicians and echoed through society in hate speech. In doing so, the performance embraces a pluralism that works against the idea that one hostile voice can speak for the many. Alleus will also travel to Edinburgh Art Festival in August 2024, to be featured as part of their 20th birthday performances.

Shenece Oretha’s work is invested in the oral traditions of the Caribbean diaspora in the UK. This call and response between audience, sculpture and performer troubles colonial horticulture and gardening to interrogate material extraction. As steel drums rattle out a beat in the space, the stage is set for Oretha to respond, leading the room in ceremony and song. The work invites questions of communal agency and challenges audience culture in Britain, drawing instead on Caribbean performance traditions that require response and participation.

Friday 22nd March | Nkisi: MA HA WISU, meet me at the crossroads / Shamica Ruddock | £16.50 |

Lancaster Rooms | Tickets here

On Friday, musician, artist and psychic Nkisi will be performing MA HA WISU, meet me at the crossroads. MA HA WISU is a multi-dimensional and sensorial experimentation in dance, movement, sound, music, sculpture and storytelling, blurring and blending the boundaries between ritual and musical gestures. Exploring the immaterial legacies embedded within sound, Nkisi collaborates with a movement artist in a new work that sees music and dance used to decode and recode ancestral traditions and spiritual technologies. Commissioned by Somerset House Studios and supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations.

Shamica Ruddock will also be presenting a new work based on her ongoing research into Maroon societies and their associated sonic practices. Working with sourced recordings, the sampled material will be processed and arranged in real time; the remnants of former sounds will be embedded amongst newly composed excerpts, speaking to Dub methodologies and versioning. Ruddock’s composition also considers the retention of the West African rhythmic structures in Afro-diasporic music and contemporary Black sonic production.

Saturday 23rd March | Day Ticket (access to all Saturday programme activity including talks) | £35 | Tickets here 

The final day of the Assembly programme is a full-day event, featuring works from Chuquimamani- Condori, Dis Fig, Mark Leckey, exlRuth, Elaine Mitchener, Zein Majali, and Lord Tusk, alongside a programme of talks and lectures. A limited number of Saturday day tickets are available.

exlRuth, Zein Majali, and Lord Tusk are the three recipients of Somerset House Studios’ Music and Sound Residency, a 15-month residency for experimental music and sound shaped by Somerset House Studios in collaboration with artist mentors Paul Purgas, Nkisi, and Gaika.

Mark Leckey / exlRuth: Romeo’s Fall | £12.50 | Lancaster Rooms | Tickets here 

Artist and composer exlRuth’s (Ruth Hughes) new original score for voice, Romeo’s Fall, traverses romance and romanticism in a post-industrial North East England. Drawing from traditional forms of 12th century choral music and Makina – a contemporary dance music genre local to Sunderland – Romeo’s Fall leads the audience through a mythic, emotive landscape that reaches beyond the physical. Performed by countertenor Nik Rawlings with accompanying double bass from Caius Williams, the vocal composition sits within a sonic collage of field recordings and drones mixed live by exlRuth.  

Turner Prize winner Mark Leckey will also be presenting a new performance work. Leckey makes use of a variety of media, including film, sound, sculpture, and performance. His versatile practice focuses on the relationship between popular culture and technology, tackling the subjects of anxiety, class, and nostalgia, and he hosts a monthly show on NTS.

Dis Fig / Zein Majali: INTIHAK £انتهاك | 16.50 | Lancaster Rooms | Tickets here

Berlin-based producer and performer Dis Fig is premiering a new body of work developed during her three-month residency at the Studios. This work marks both her first full-length statement since 2019’s debut album PURGE and her first solo London headline performance to date. Dis Fig’s performances are fueled by her raw vulnerability. At times violent, and at times hauntingly beautiful, she tumbles dynamically through heavy emotional landscapes, traversing them using voice and electronics as a vehicle. This live performance with drummer and producer Sam Jones will lean on new processes which utilise self-made electro-acoustic instruments and improvisational channelling. Commissioned by Somerset House Studios in collaboration with Goethe-Institut London, and CTM Festival Berlin.

Zein Majali will be performing a new audio-visual piece INTIHAK انتهاك (violation), which explores the relationship between technology and perception. Confronting the impacts of soft power and software within the Arab world, Majali sees the effects of cultural flattening through globalisation as crucial in her navigation of a personal disconnection with her ancestral past. Utilising generated, sampled and recorded sound and video, INTIHAK انتهاك jumps from ancient tribal rhythms to double-time nightcore remixes and virtual worlds, mimicking the fragmented and disorienting act of tracing back culture while living in the cursed timeline of today. 

Chuquimamani-Condori (Live) / Lord Tusk: small talk KILLS | £16.50 | Lancaster Rooms | Tickets here

Multidisciplinary artist and musician Chuquimamani-Condori will be performing the UK live premiere of their new album DJ E, a record described by FACT Magazine as “one of the most mind-bending, magical albums we’ve heard all year”, released November 2023. Weaving in demos and material from recent mixtapes alongside the new record, Chuquimamani-Condori assembles an exclusive live performance characterised by their unique collaging of club music and Andean folk, headlining Assembly with their first solo London performance since 2018.

Lord Tusk, the self-described ‘master producer, sound curator and connoisseur of unplayed and eclectic audio waves’, presents small talk KILLS, an experimental moving image work focussing on his own version of London, with an accompanying score performed live by the artist himself. 

Elaine Mitchener Projects present These Cost the Earth | FREE | Chairman’s Staircase, New Wing | More info here

Elaine Mitchener’s new work These Cost the Earth will descend and rescale the New Wing staircase in a multi-storey performative cycle for an onlooking audience below in the early evening. Made in collaboration with performers Wai Shan Vivian Luk, Tommaso Petrolo, and sound designer Michael Picknett, These Cost the Earth reflects upon the textile waste crisis, examining the environmental and human cost of discarding clothes to landfill. Attendees to any Assembly event on Saturday can experience Mitchener’s piece as part of their ticket free of charge. Please note Elaine herself will not be performing. 

Talks and lectures are to be announced in February. All talks and lectures are free to attend with any Saturday ticket, including tickets for individual performances. 

Not Strictly Speaking | Assembly Podcast Series

A three-part podcast series exploring different manifestations of the voice extends the Assembly live programme throughout the run. Underpinned by a new sound commission from French composer, artist and writer Felicia Atkinson, each episode follows an artist featured in the 2024 programme as they unpack the power of the voice beyond speech, in dialogue with several guest contributors.  

Assembly 2024 Line-up listing

Wed 20 March 2024

Brìghde Chaimbeul with Maëva Berthelot and Temitope Ajose: Where the Veil is Thin / Vivienne Griffin 

19.00 – 20.30 & 21.00 – 22.30 Lancaster Rooms £16.50

Thu 21 March 2024

Prem Sahib: Alleus / Shenece Oretha

19.00 – 20.30 & 21.00 – 22.30 Lancaster Rooms £10.00

Fri 22 March 2024

Nkisi: MA HA WISU, meet me at the crossroads / Shamica Ruddock

19.00 – 20.30 & 21.00 – 22.30 Lancaster Rooms £16.50

Sat 23 March 2024

Full Day Ticket, £35 (Access to all Saturday programme activity including talks to be announced) or individually priced below

Mark Leckey / exlRuth: Romeo’s Fall

16.00 – 17.30 Lancaster Rooms £12.50

Elaine Mitchener Projects present These Cost the Earth

17.30 Chairman’s Staircase, New Wing FREE (for Saturday ticket holders)

Dis Fig / Zein Majali: INTIHAK انتهاك 

19.00 – 20.30 Lancaster Rooms £16.50

Chuquimamani-Condori (Live) / Lord Tusk: small talk KILLS

21.00 – 23.00 Lancaster Rooms £16.50

Tickets for the programme are available here.

Partners – Supported by PRS Foundation’s Open Fund for Organisations, Goethe-Institut London, The Roberts Institute of Art, Kitmapper and The Wire.

ABOUT SOMERSET HOUSE STUDIOS 

Somerset House Studios is an experimental workspace in the centre of London connecting artists, makers and thinkers with audiences. Located inside the repurposed former Inland Revenue building, the Studios offer space and support to artists pushing bold ideas, engaging with urgent issues and pioneering new technologies. It is also a platform for the development of new creative projects and collaborations. Up to 70 artists are resident at any one time and are supported to develop their practice for a defined period.