LAMIN FOFANA, larger framework of Black culture on the cusp of sound & written word, Olya Karlovich, δημοσίευση στο CLOT Magazine [23/12/2022]
In his music and art practice, Lamin Fofana explores the questions of movement, migration, alienation and belonging. And not only the historical context but also personal experience influenced his unique approach to working with sound as a creative medium. As a child, the artist and his family left their home in Sierra Leone and fled to Guinea due to the exhausting civil war. When he became a teenager, they immigrated to the United States.
In New York, Fofana has become a prominent figure in the local electronic music scene as a member of the Dutty Artz platform/community and the owner of the underground label Sci-Fi & Fantasy. But, despite all these merits, the artist relocated to Central Europe in 2016. The next stop on his way was Berlin; there, he gradually began to move away from the club environment, delving more into the art world.
Fofana’s projects have ideological overtones. Focusing on the historical movement of Black people across the globe, forced or not, turn the spotlight on the legacy of migration and the consequences of colonial thinking and oppression.
In the latest album trilogy, Ballad Air & Fire/Shafts of Sunlight/The Open Boat, released via his other label Black Studies, Fofana continues to explore ambient music, reflecting on our pandemic-altered perception of time, disruption of the European approach to art; and reimagining the geography of the African people diaspora.
Invisible artists’ collaborators in this project were the poets Amiri Baraka and Kamau Brathwaite. For Fofana, working with texts is a full-fledged dialogic exchange. The insights he receives from his favourite authors later materialise in his works. The artist himself calls this approach “transmuting text into sound”.
The auditory side of Fofana’s works also has a distinctive style. His music is not background but requires active listening. The narratives of field and archival recordings are intertwined with external noises and synth melodies. There is a balance between enveloping meditativeness created by repetitive figures and expressively clear accents; pauses and slowdowns have a vital role to play here. It is fascinating how Fofana skillfully experiments with temporality in his latest releases, stretching time and space and denying linear structures.
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