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Issue 226

Evan Ifekoya Wants to Heal You Through Sound

For their first solo exhibition in Switzerland, the artist and energy worker uses multisensory environments to go beyond the fatalistic parameters of representation

BY Olamiju Fajemisin in EU Reviews , Exhibition Reviews | 23 FEB 22

‘~ Resonant Frequencies’, the first institutional solo show in Switzerland by London-based interdisciplinary artist and energy worker Evan Ifekoya, is a mesmeric encounter with sound, in which the artist explores the desire to know and to be known by means other than the overwrought, increasingly fatalistic, objectifying and exploitative parameters of imagic representation. Ifekoya’s immersive, newly commissioned installation at Migros Museum investigates their interest in finding balance and harmony through sound as it resonates in air, water and, crucially, the human body. By blurring the lines between the experience of the collective and the individual, the artist encourages gallery-goers to attune to their own resonant frequency – best understood as the natural vibration determined by the physical dimensions of any entity.

Evan Ifekoya, ‘~ Resonant Frequencies’, 2022, exhibition view, Migros Museum, Zurich; Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Stefan Altenburger

Ifekoya’s transformation of the ground floor of the Migros Museum into a multisensory sculptural landscape prompts both individual and collective contemplation through the implementation of unique, furniture-like structures to convene around and within. Materials, textures and lighting – iridescent dichroic foil on acrylic glass, wood, water, cork, carpet, Perspex mirror, PAR and LED lights – recur throughout the space, creating a visual continuity that seeks to enhance, rather than distract from, the seven-hour sound work at the heart of this installation, which, through a series of single- and two-channel sound systems, can be heard at varying volume throughout the space. Visitors are invited to enter a series of five octagonal and circular structures – including The Welcome and The Silent Echo (all works 2022) – referred to by the artist as ‘portal units’ or ‘caves’, in which vibrations produced by the sonic work are sent coursing through the body.

Evan Ifekoya, The Central Sun (detail), 2022, 2-channel synchronized sound installation,

speakers, wood, acrylic glass, styrodur, motor, painted gourd rattles, rubber skin pellet drum with cowrie shells, cork, carpet. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Lorenzo Pusterla

The Vibration (Sun Light), for instance, provides visitors with a literal experience of the resonant frequencies of the exhibition’s title. Placed in the centre of the floor of the octagonal cell is a firm double mattress topped with two remote-controlled vibrating massage mats. As I lay prone on the undulating surface, gazing upwards at the bright LED lights while listening for the individual layers of the sound as they swelled through the subwoofer and surrounding stereos, I thought of the stranger lying next to me. The Welcome – a series of dichroic foil-wrapped, glass panels suspended around a central platform – provides a similar experience, as visitors gather around to watch the surface of a dark, shallow font quiver with resonance. Just as collective experience lies at the heart of this presentation, Ifekoya also foregrounds collaboration, inviting five artists – Rebekah Alero, Rahima Gambo, Maïa Nunes, Maïté Chénière (a.k.a. Mighty) and MINQ – to contribute to the audio piece, which includes excerpts from the literary corpus of Ifá, the Yoruba divination system, interspersed between impromptu melodies and spoken word.

Evan Ifekoya, The Vibration (Sun Light), 2022, sound installation (stereo sound), speakers, subwoofer, wood, massage mattresses, acrylic glass, LED stripes, cork, carpet, Detail: The Central Sun, 2022, painted gourd rattles. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Anaïs Steiner,

Yet, despite offering a compelling investigation of the healing potential of sound on physical and cerebral function, ‘~ Resonant Frequencies’ is potentially undermined by the open-endedness of its promise of Black and queer liberation. Purporting, in the exhibition literature, to be informed by ‘wisdom keepers inside and outside of Indigenous traditions and practices’, as well as ‘multiple forms of embodied, ancestral and spiritual practices’, questions of personal and collective identification become confused by the exhibition’s manifold points of departure. Though these many means of identification may be explained by Ifekoya’s interest in the concept of ‘Blackness in abundance’ – that is, the emphasis of the multiplicity of the Black diasporic experience beyond the confines of class, race and gender signifiers – the artist’s work is best viewed through a conjectural lens, one which imagines the installation as a legacy for the future of representation.

Evan Ifekoya’s ‘~ Resonant Frequencies’ is on view at Migros Museum, Zurich, until 1 May 2022.

Main image: Evan Ifekoya, ‘~ Resonant Frequencies’, 2022, exhibition view, Migros Museum, Zurich. Courtesy: the artist; photograph: Stefan Altenburger

Olamiju Fajemisin is a writer based in London, UK.