South African history and ecology serve as points of departure in RAIN SHADOWS: A SOUNDSCAPE, a new experimental collaboration between contemporary artist, Chrisél Attewell, and composer and musician, Wesley West.
The album is made as part of Attewell’s upcoming Master’s exhibition, RAIN SHADOWS, that will take place from 28 January to 4 March 2023 at the UJ FADA Gallery in Johannesburg, South Africa. One floor of Attewell’s two-level exhibition will feature an installation of her video works, which will be played alongside her and West’s sound piece. Presave the music here.
In this exhibition, Attewell engages with the concept of rain shadows both in a literal and metaphorical way, explains the duo. “In the literal interpretation, a rain shadow is a landform that has become desertified due to mountain ranges that block rain clouds from passing over them. On one side of the mountain, healthy plant life can be found within wet weather systems, while the other side is forced to become a desert. Metaphorically, the rain shadow in this exhibition refers to the darker side of human history that divided people into those who prosper and those who suffer.”
Over two years, Attewell has been researching the Cape landscape, its traumatic histories, and the threats of drought and desertification that it faces. These are global concerns mostly brought on by humanity’s negative impact on the planet’s ecologies. It is, however, not all of humanity that is to blame. Traumatic colonial and exploitative histories are entangled in the planet’s current ecological crises.
The sound installation by Attewell and West is created with these histories and the current ecological crisis in mind. The sounds in the album feature a variety of recordings that Attewell made in her studio and in the landscape. Many of the sounds are made from dried-out ocean corals, sponges, and shells that washed ashore on a Cape Town beach. Attewell argues that the number of dead and bleached ocean creatures found on the beach is a trace of a much larger problem related to the ocean’s health and the planet’s ecologies.