White Radiance TM (2020)
for voice, ensemble and electronics (12 min.) View score
Commissioned by Donaueschinger Musiktage for Elaine Mitchener and MAM.Manufaktur für Aktuelle Musik
White Radiance TM looks at the politics of skin bleaching creams, as it is elaborated upon by the Jamaican philosopher and writer Sylvia Wynter. Pushed by major Western cosmetic corporations they constitute—in Wynter's words—"the emergence of a global free-market-driven and consumer-oriented mimetic desire that is anchored to a single genre-specific Western European bourgeois model of being". By coopting the language of these commercials and putting it against Wynter's own powerful words, White Radiance (the brand name) tries to expose the mechanics of the strategies to generate this mimetic desire.
But the piece does not limit itself to a deconstructive gesture; it also seeks to reconstruct a new way of being together—"of being human as praxis", a guiding phrase in Wynter's writing. Taking Michelle M. Wright's concept of an "Epiphenomenal time" that is rooted in the now—in contrast to the notion of a linear time that is rooted in an origin and history—this piece tries to manifest what Wright calls a "horizontal interpellation" of subjective agency, rather than a "vertical interpellation" along hierarchical structures. Specifically, towards the end, the piece does not provide a synchronized score with a "master-timeline" that all performers are subjected to. Rather, it employs individual parts that are not synchronized and which encourage the performers to interpellate their musical agency through horizontal, rhizomatic negotiations among one another. These interdependencies manifest a way of moving through time collectively, rather than following a single timeline/narrative/history, that honors individual agency as something inherently dependent on one another—a praxis that can only ever be done in the making of it, not in the achieving of it.
Choreography by Dam Van Huynh. Dancers: Ieva Navickaite, Tommaso Petrolo
October 16th, 2020