Auto Italia presents Crucial, a multimedia performance by Ashley Holmes. Combining installation, projected imagery and live audio collage, Crucial explores music and sound as means for researching collective memory, ownership and belonging.
Crucial begins with Holmes’ ongoing investigations into the histories and legacies of Black musical tradition, with focus on the global influence of music from the Caribbean. It takes the version and the riddim, iterative musical practices born from Jamaican music, as a framework for surveying these sonic materials and technologies.
Collaged live using DJ equipment, found recordings and Holmes’ own productions are filtered through techniques for reworking and repurposing sound such as dubbing, mixing, looping and sampling, which are rooted in Black electronic music. Experiments with tempo, multiplicity, spatial arrangement, harmonic texture, gesture, pattern, rhythm and silence are explored throughout the audio. Abstracted landscapes from the Peak District backdrop the performance, with imagery drawn from sites of direct action that led to the ‘right to roam’ in the UK. Together, sound and image reflect on the complex relationships between people and place, with particular focus on public access and marginality in rural areas of the UK.
Sampling as citation, intergenerational use of sounds and the importance of musical practices that happen ‘without permission’ such as pirating, bootlegging, cover versions and remixes are explored throughout. Crucial charts the fractal trajectories of Black electronic audio practice, examining music as a vehicle to speak back to power and as a tool to re-define links between past and present.
Crucial has been made possible by Headline Exhibition Supporters Cockayne – Grants for the Arts and the London Community Foundation, with additional support from Arts Council England.
Ashley Holmes (b. Luton, 1990) is an artist and DJ based in Sheffield, UK. His practice combines audio visual installations, performance, sound design and radio broadcasts. Ashley currently hosts Tough Matter, a monthly broadcast on NTS Radio and facilitates Open Deck, a series of gatherings giving space to collectively listen and hold discursive space around relationships to music, sound and oral histories. Recent selected projects include Humber Street Gallery, Hull (2022); Hyundai Tate Research Centre: Transnational, UAL Transnational and Transcultural Arts and Culture Exchange, London (2021); Languid Hands at Frieze LIVE, London (2021); Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds (2021).