Nikita Gale, SOME WEATHER (Rain), 2021
You reference the phrase “the rest is weather” from the late American novelist Toni Morrison to describe the position of black female background singers of iconic rock performers such as The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and Phil Collins. Could you tell us more about what this means to you?
There’s a line at the end of her novel Beloved that goes “By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather. Certainly no clamor for a kiss.”
It’s a reflection about how words spoken become air and heat. How the activities of bodies and what they emit become a part of the environment that we collectively inhabit. How a wayward glance or moment of recognition manifests as an electrical charge in a brain or sweat emanating from skin that evaporates into the air as moisture. And this is the same air and atmosphere that acts as a medium for sound.
Weather is defined a particular instance of the atmosphere -- sunshine, temperature, precipitation, wind, and so on. We can also think of the weather of the mix as in the atmosphere of the recording, the atmosphere of the arrangements of the levels of instrumentation and of voices. And, so in the same way that there is a weather of the mix there’s also an element of weather in performance on the stage. So, in the context of a stage performance we have the primary foregrounded figure -- the lead singer -- and the background performers in the supporting atmosphere and environment of the stage. The background singers are a part of the apparatus that supports that lead performance and facilitates its smooth and seamless execution. That weather of the stage and its environment is not just the musicians and the background singers but also the lighting the trusses the material of the stage itself is all going into creating an atmosphere and whether of a stage that ultimately generates an effect that is an acted on the view were the spectators the audience of that performance this is a new kind of sonic weathering pattern
Christina Sharpe, "In the Wake: On Blackness and Being", 2016
In this original and trenchant work, Christina Sharpe interrogates literary, visual, cinematic, and quotidian representations of Black life that comprise what she calls the "orthography of the wake." Activating multiple registers of "wake"—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation. Initiating and describing a theory and method of reading the metaphors and materiality of "the wake," "the ship," "the hold," and "the weather," Sharpe shows how the sign of the slave ship marks and haunts contemporary Black life in the diaspora and how the specter of the hold produces conditions of containment, regulation, and punishment, but also something in excess of them. In the weather, Sharpe situates anti-Blackness and white supremacy as the total climate that produces premature Black death as normative. Formulating the wake and "wake work" as sites of artistic production, resistance, consciousness, and possibility for living in diaspora, In the Wake offers a way forward.
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