Amber Ablett: My Fathers Left

Hallen USF 15.03.2023 19.00


On 15 March, Amber Ablett will premiere the first part of My Fathers Left, a work co-commissioned by Borealis – a festival for experimental music and BEK. The premiere is part of An Exquisite Korps, the 20 year anniversary concert of Borealis, which takes place in Hallen USF, opening the 2023 festival.

My Fathers Left is a sonic poem and sound installation developed through workshop with four co-authors/participants. A full length work and installation will be shown at Borealis 2024. This project looks at Black fatherhood from a Norwegian perspective. 

“There has been a strong and persuasive narrative around Black fatherhood in the West and this work looks to both share the breath of our experiences and take back control of our own stories: limiting a broad community’s experiences to a single narrative reveals the control that white supremacy has over our potential. Through writing and discussion workshops, we explore storytelling and our need to tell our stories – and the vulnerability this entails – and share this work through a sonic, multichannel work,” says Ablett.

During her BEK studio residency this March, Ablett has been developing the first part of this work, a kind of prologue which explores the vulnerability of sharing one’s own story, and the relationship of trust between speaker and listener. This first part will have its premiere at the Borealis 2023 opening.

Using performance, text, video, sound and social-gatherings, Ablett’s work looks at the importance of place and belonging to how we live and communicate together. She looks at how our society shapes, reflects, controls and limits our multifaceted identities and how conversation offers an alternative to this. She uses her own experiences, as a Black mixed race woman, as an example to open up discussions and thoughts.

The voice is an important material in this work, that she uses to connect and talk with the audience. She is interested in the spatiality of sound and how it creates emotional atmospheres, and how the voice reveals so much about who we are: from where we come from to what mood we are in. Composing a work for four channels will create this immersive experience and the composition will play with direction and movement aurally. From the beginning, there will be a focus on the materiality of the voice and how we can use this in the writing and recording process.

Community and conversation are also materials in Ablett’s work. As she works with questions that affect our society, listening and learning from others, whether it is the audience, participants or collaborators, is important to her development as an artist (and person). As in this work, she often uses workshops to enable shared thinking and shared ownership of the work; she wants to bring people who don’t normally engage with contemporary art into her work as she sees art as a tool we can all use to understand and question the way the world works. She is interested in how we can learn about ourselves by learning about other people. This work takes her personal experience as a starting point to look at the breadth of experiences of fatherhood in the African diaspora in Norway.

Part of «New Perspectives for Action» – a project by Re-Imagine Europe, partially funded by the European Union.