At the core of Sonic Atlas: Sonoscura is Night & Refuge is an extraordinary collaborative poem exploring night and seeking refuge recently created online over three hours in relays between Bergvall and renowned poets Leo Boix, Vahni Capildeo, Will Harris and Nisha Ramayaa, and inspired by the ancient tradition of Renga, a Japanese rulebound form of collective writing.
The four distinct, measured parts of Sonic Atlas: Sonoscura begin with the alphabet spoken in a constellation of languages, and continue with Bergvall’s evocation of voice and text, and the poets speaking their sections of Night & Refuge within sound environments created by musician and sound artist Jamie Hamilton. The audio work is set to imagery of graphic texts, photographic portraits, and extended film sequences shot by cinematographer Andy Delaney at the end of the day in Southend-on-Sea in Essex during the initial lockdown period.
In 2020, award-winning poet, writer and performer Caroline Bergvall begins the final and most ambitious phase of Sonic Atlas, an immersive three-part performance cycle exploring languages and the movement and migration of words. Originally conceived as live events for audiences in site-specific locations, the four new elements for this year are radically re-imagined by Bergvall for the digital sphere in direct response to the impact of the 2020 coronavirus pandemic.
Fusing new writings with fragments of marginalised or minoritarian languages, field recordings and music, poetry and songwork in performances reflecting the progression of a day, Sonic Atlas began in 2016 with Ragadawn in sunrise performances across Europe. The work continued with Conference of the Birds, a sunset performance exploring language and poetry with birdsong recordings in 2018 (and planned for Tate Modern in 2020); and concludes with a major site-specific night performance for Estuary Festival in 2021 in collaboration with Cement Fields.