London’s ICA is set to present Channel B, a new interactive exhibition by Black-owned art, music and creative education initiative Nine Nights, from 11 October 2021 – 30 January 2022. Channel B is an audio-visual exploration of Black futurism, featuring new work by Gaika, GLOR1A and Shannen SP. It includes five interactive installations that act as stages for live performance and broadcast. Drawing on a lineage of pirate broadcasters, subterranean dancefloors and the ‘happenings’ of the 1960s, Channel B is nostalgic for an unknown past but committed to the imaginaries of the future. Each of the works presented address sci-fi, speculative fiction, horror, political satire and experimental sound, and consider the contemporary role of surveillance, digital autonomy, non-human intelligence and digitised human ritual. To learn more, Something Curated spoke with the Nine Nights team. 

Seguridad: Cash Fractals 01, 2020, Strange Edition, New York, Photograph: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.

Something Curated: Can you introduce us to Nine Nights; what is the aim of the initiative?

Nine Nights: Nine Nights started in the chaos of 2020. Grieving, rising right-wing political populism, the unending spectre of police brutality and Covid disproportionately affecting Black and ethnic minority people across the western hemisphere seemed to all converge into one hot and difficult summer. These issues however are not new, and Nine Nights’ key motive is to create a new forward-thinking economic ecosystem for Black culture. By developing Black creative talent across the UK through mentorship and apprenticeships, platform groundbreaking alternative Black artists to the world, and to support Black community causes – these three pillars are our foundation and filter into everything we do.

SC: What is the thinking behind the upcoming exhibition, Channel B, which you are presenting at the ICA?

NN: The idea that we could be so governed by algorithms, written elsewhere, that subtly manipulate our wants, needs and desires is harrowing and fascinating for us. We needed to create our own reality that in some way represented a counter manipulation to this subtle bleep of sorted, digitised, acceptably racialised humanity. This exhibition is a form of entropic protest, call it a sit-in, call it a rave, it’s a pirate transmission, a call to the people in space to create new analogues by simply being present. We created a satirical project which platformed Black resilience on a different frequency. The exhibition also aims to ask thought-provoking questions regarding creation and simulation, authority and digital autonomy.

Community is key to Nine Nights’ ethos, taking inspiration from key pirate movements which changed the course of history through coming together, rebelling against the system and spreading good vibes. This exhibition is a point of intersection of two realities – the familiarity of now and the allure of a future that is shaped by us. We will create a takeover for four months on our frequency; each exhibition will become a stage partnering with Black talent across the UK to bring the ICA alive, interacting with the exhibition. Each area will become a transmitter, a recorder and broadcaster, changing the internet airwaves forever.

Seguridad: Cash Fractals 01, 2020, Strange Edition, New York, Photograph: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.

SC: Could you expand on your approach to collaboration?

NN: Infrastructure is the main place for collaboration, we have to bring many creatives to help us develop Nine Nights and the exhibition we have done. We are using this technology to build infrastructure which will document a future Black archive. When we started Nine Nights we hadn’t met or worked with each other before; we were driven by a need for structural change and we need to develop a collaborative working style to develop the business. Collectivity is also key to the Channel B exhibition and our new music TV series of Nine Nights coming later this year. Each of the exhibitions is a structural container for distinct programming of Black artists’ work. With the new series, we will be working with featured artists to create a collaborative response to a societal issue affecting Black British people. This collaboration will be realised in set design and content for the series. In the future, who knows where our collaborations will take us?

Feature image: Seguridad: Cash Fractals 01, 2020, Strange Edition, New York, Photograph: Guarionex Rodriguez Jr.

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