INTERVIEW: I. Nakhla | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Unless you live under a rock or in denial, then you may be aware that the Earth is in trouble. Pollution is affecting our environment and one of the drivers of that is waste and wastefulness, something that will be explored in an experimental audio production coming to ARC, Stockton on Thursday 30th May.

WASTE is brought to you by I. Nakhla, an artist who works on the fringes of music, computational arts and sculpture. “I trained as a sculptor, and I feel lucky to have learnt how an art practice can be a conversation between object, subject and space. My computer is sort of my studio, which means software and programmes are often the site in which construction happens. I’m interested in how musical and computational practices can challenge more traditional, or galleristic, conceptions of place-making and exhibition. My default is almost always music and words: wherever I have my body, I can practise.”

It’s the sonic element of I. Nakhla’s practice that will be on show in WASTE, and their early influences can be traced back to dance music, as they explain. “As a teenager I listened to industrial drum and bass and dubstep – before I ever made art or music. Producers like Noisia and Icicle in the early 2000’s made me associate gritty electronic music with the sweatier places and states of mind I was growing into – with protest, dirt and community.”

The project came to fruition as a result of ARC’s open call to artists for their Make New Work programme in Autumn 2023. It’s support that I. Nakhla says is vital for artists like them. “Artists need funding and support to legitimise our careers and share experiences. ARC is a unique institution in the way it wants to play with the boundaries of theatre and community artwork.”

WASTE saw I. Nakhla speak to the local community to produce work that responds to what is on their minds. “These conversations are ongoing, and it’s been really informative learning about people’s different experiences of ‘waste’ whilst keeping the project non-party political. What I’ve learnt so far is that a lot of people, regardless of background or political position, feel pretty powerless in relation to their experience of environmental degradation, and often unheard by those who make the structural changes.”

For the final instalment of WASTE, I. Nakhla, alongside two selected creatives from the Teesside area and two Make New Work mentees, will present their research as an experimental audio performance, which will encompass music, words, field recording and catchy melodies. It challenges the narratives that determine what is classed as ‘resource’ and what as ‘waste’, and discusses who or what can be wasted.

I asked I. Nakhla what they think drives society’s attitudes to waste and if our throwaway culture is beginning to change? “One position could be that if we live in a society where profits are driven by consumption, then until politicians give big businesses and manufacturers financial incentive to minimise the waste that comes with continued consumption, then we won’t see significant change. I wish there was a different logic I could appeal to. In reality, there is no ‘away’ that we throw things.”

The final instalment of WASTE takes place at ARC Stockton on Thursday 30th May. A streamable record, documenting some of the audio work will be available via the end measure Spotify account.


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