Shayekh Mohammad Arif

Shayekh is a contemporary sound artist and composer from Bangladesh. He was supported by the Mobility First! Special Open Call with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to travel from Dhaka, Bangladesh to Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam to join the MoT+++ performance plus artist residency 2019  from November to December 2019.

As one of the selected artists to participate in the residency, I spent 2 weeks in an immersive experience of Ho Chi Minh City (formerly referred to as Saigon)  that culminated in a site-specific recording of audio-visual installation. It was a properly accomplished residency with collaborations, live installations & open studio session. I collaborated with a US based musician & a Vietnamese artist. I conducted a detailed three-day long site-specific recording (audio & video), which I then assembled into an extended soundscape of 90 minutes and presented live to an intimate gathering of resident artists on 5 & 7 December 2019.

I also conducted an open studio session with the city’s local community of audio-visual & new media artists, which has opened possibilities of some future collaborations.

In Bangladesh where I come from, the contemporary art scene is in the emerging phase. On the other hand, Ho Chi Minh City is much more vibrant in the aspect of resources and many art researchers & artists from different corners of the world are visiting Vietnam regularly through a number of art organisations. There are lots of possibilities of conducting long-term projects. Exhibitions, talks & open studio sessions are happening almost every day in Ho Chi Minh City & Hanoi which is really inspiring for art practitioners.

I have been working on Southeast Asian folk sounds (sound-collecting, composition, installation) for last 6 years. In this residency, I wanted to build an interacting segment in my installation where Asian folk music with site-specific recordings will meet with local music to form an immersive experience of interacting cross-cultural experience. I strongly felt that I have succeeded on that aspect.

What are some of the most interesting lessons you have learned during your visit?

The most interesting lessons I’ve learned during the trip can be summed up into 5 key points:

  • The diversity of Ho Chi Minh City & its endless possibilities
  • The emerging scene of the city’s contemporary art scene
  • Experiences working with artists from different disciplines – visual arts, literature, philosophy, etc.
  • Critical dialogue sessions in the residency were, indeed, very informative & educational
  • Future project planning conducted with more extensive work in Ho Chi Minh City
Shayekh at MoT+++ perfomance plus 2019

What professional & personal objectives did you achieve in this activity?

Generally, my work intends to shift emphasis from object to situation, and from immersion to discourse in the realm of sound and media art. In this process, ‘public-ness’ of ambient sound is a specific issue in on-site field recording and then composing with these field recordings in developing a sound artwork. Through this work method, I was able to address how site-specifics in a public site is often transformed by artistic intervention and how this transformation helps to put a nuanced account of the site. Every public site in the residency area has distinct and subtle sounds emanating from its specific environment. These sound sources can include wind, rain, running water, rustling leaves, distant traffic, aircraft and machinery noise, the sound of distant human movement and speech, creaks from thermal contraction, air conditioners, fan and motor noises, hum of electrical machines, and room tones.

This residency has enriched my experience & broaden my achievements. I was able to properly accomplish my vision of a site-specific recording to conduct in Ho Chi Minh City!

I was able to share with the local audiences about my method of sound-noise-narration and collecting based on soundscape building. I believe this experience will let us spread our artworks more & create new possibilities.

I also translated local rural folk tunes with my musicality for a complete ‘Audio Book’. This gave the audience an experience of new type of musicality. It also opened the possibilities of working in Vietnam more in near future.

The Mobility First! Special Open Call with the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs is still on-going!