It's a Questions of Power, Isn't It?


Foreword by Amal Alhaag & Krista Jantowski (curatorial team sonsbeek 20←24)

Mathieu Charles’s soundscape 𝑆𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑝𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑢𝑘𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 can be loosely translated in English as castaway–someone who is shipwrecked. In this piece that slowly bends notions of time and languages, Charles whispers closely into our ears about restless and resilient people and beings in a future that remind us of our tumultuous present. A sonic epilogue that touches on the nightmares haunting the afterlives of slavery and colonialism; the misery that chokes marginalised people ‘in a sea of whiteness’. But there’s no afterlife without wayward people and workers, laughter, boredom, dreams, and hysteria. Charles echoes this by eliciting the chants of Sun Ra Arkestra's June Tyson: "It's after the end of the world - don't you know that yet?"

“What can I do?

I must begin

Begin what?

The only thing in the world that’s worth beginning:

The End of the Word, no less.” ⏤ Aimé Césaire

This quote is an excerpt from a poem by the world famous Martinican poet Aimé Césaire: one of the foremost anticolonial politician and thinker of Martinique, who was deeply involved in the independence struggle for the rights of French West Indies. His words came to mind when we first listened to the poem 𝑆𝑐ℎ𝑖𝑝𝑏𝑟𝑒𝑢𝑘𝑒𝑙𝑖𝑛𝑔 (“Castaway”) by poet Mathieu Charles, which is brimmed with familiar references–from Baldwin to Sun Ra–that guided us through these desperate times.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” — James Baldwin, The Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are, Life Magazine, May 24, 1963.

As we continue to navigate the unknown, we recognise the familiar signs of known violences laid bare by the responses to COVID-19. In his poem, Mathieu Charles responds to these known -isms that keep tormenting him, us, the ones before us: racism, sexism, capitalism.

This prelude is part of 𝐼𝑡’𝑠 𝐴 𝑄𝑢𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑂𝑓 𝑃𝑜𝑤𝑒𝑟, 𝐼𝑠𝑛’𝑡 𝐼𝑡?: a mixtape that looks into the various ways gendered and racialized capitalism shapes contemporary labour conditions. With thoughtful consideration created by Em’kal Eyongakpa and curator Amal Alhaag.

This website uses cookies for analytics.