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This contemporary multimedia installation is based on The African Choir’s first tour to Victorian England in 1891.
Seen for the first time in South Africa, it presents five songs recreated by the composers from an original nineteenth-century concert programme, along with twenty photographic portraits of the choir members rediscovered in London at the Hulton Archive after 125 years.
Featuring songs composed and arranged by Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi.
The African Choir 1891 Re-imagined is a collaboration between Autograph and Tshisa Boys Productions.
The project is made possible with support by the South African Department of Arts and Culture, the University of the Western Cape, and City of Cape Town.
The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined was first shown at Autograph , London (2016). This installation premieres in Cape Town at SANG, before travelling to Johannesburg to the Apartheid Museum and the FADA Gallery, where it will be hosted by the Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), University of Johannesburg.
The audio CD was published by Autograph and Tshisa Boys in July 2017. Photographs were first exhibited in Black Chronicles II at Autograph, London (2014) presented in association with the Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images. The accompanying Black Chronicles book will be published by Autograph in partnership with Harvard University’s Hutchins Center (forthcoming Winter 2017).
Original curatorial research was made possible by Heritage Lottery Fund (UK) as part of Autograph ABP’s archive programme The Missing Chapter (2013–16), led by Renée Mussai. Autograph ABP is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
All Photographs: The African Choir by London Stereoscopic Company, 1891 Courtesy © Hulton Archive/Getty Images. Printed by Mike Spry Darkroom in 2014. All Songs © Philip Miller and Thuthuka Sibisi. Sound recorded and mixed by Murray Anderson and Jethro Erick Harris at Milestone Studios, Cape Town. Footstomp mixed by Gavan Eckhart at Soul Fire Studios. Special thanks to Hulton Archive, a division of Getty Images; the fifteen vocal collaborators; Professor Tamar Garb; and picture researcher Jennifer Jeffries.
Banner images: 1) Eleanor Xiniwe, The African Choir, 1891. London Stereoscopic Company. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images. 2) John Xiniwe and Albert Jonas, London Stereoscopic Company studios, 1891. Courtesy of © Hulton Archive/Getty Images. 3) The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined gallery installation at Iziko, Cape Town.