Objects and Sounds from Finsbury Park

Finsbury Park represents the wood. An urban place, but for me it is the same as the traditional context in the village. The park is an urban design but there is still wood, you can still come, there is still medicine. You go to the park and you rest, you play. It is still the same thing as the wood back home in Burkina Faso. 
Alexandre Yemaoua Dayo

Rachel Jacobs, Alexandre Yemaoua Dayo, Esi Eshun and David Kemp are working with the diverse and wide communities and visitors in Finsbury Park. We have been in residence at the Commons (Jamboree Hut) in the park since 2022, in partnership with Furtherfield, Finsbury Park Drumming School and West African Fusion band Zantogola .

The stick represents the tree and the seasons. The use of the tree. In my tradition (Senoufo from Burkina Faso) you have to sit under the tree to pass from child to man. The adults prepare each generation of children for the initiation, preparing them to stay under the trees. Dancing with the trees around, in the wood connected to the village. Each village has a wood and a river, the water source. In a traditional village you go to the wood for the initiation, for rest, to give something, killing a chicken, for sacrifice, to play. The wood is related to the village. The children go to a big tree in the middle of the forest, all together. It can be a month, 2 weeks. The adults don’t give them food, but everybody survives. Under the tree you even speak a different language. If you aren’t initiated you don’t learn the language. Certain language connects us to a certain spirit. On the last day a boy will go to the village for a ceremony welcoming them back. They prepare costumes before this, traditionally out of leaves. Now, in modern times the family helps with materials.

Everyone has a stick. You use it in the dance. How you look, how you dance, demonstrates how strong you are, how happy you were under the tree. Everyone has the stick and does the dance. The stick helps you communicate with the mask, the ‘Do’, the spirit of the ancestors, the supreme god. Ancestors are the bridge to the ‘Do’. The initiation stick still has the bark. You beat each other in the dance, you beat each other’s legs with the stick and your legs bleed. It shows how strong you survive. There is a root that you put on the marks and it heals them by the next day. You keep the stick in your house, as decoration, with the costume. Sometimes it will have a use, older people sometimes use it to lock the doors of their house, or as a walking stick, as a weapon, for hunting and digging holes. Your stick is for your generation. You can pass it on when you don’t need it. It is the language of the tree and all the four seasons.

For me the stick connects back to the origins, to the beginning. The tree and the river brings the village, our need to survive in terms of food and health from the woods. You will find roots for medicine. Leaves for food. When the crops don’t work and it is dry you can eat leaves, when it’s not raining the wood will still be there. There are birds. Everything for a human to survive.

This is an excerpt from a longer composition that aims to archive the sounds of Finsbury Park from 2022 to 2024. The composition is an ever-evolving generative piece, constantly rearranging itself and never repeating. Building on the work with the Future Machine, we are attempting to create a musical language to mimic and respond to the weather and natural environment. This electronic collage blends improvised musical performances with park sounds and deconstructed words from Esi Eshun.

Alexandre Yemaoua Dayo and Dave Kemp

Find out more about when Future Machine appears in Finsbury Park – when the autumn leaves fall

Video: Future Machine in Finsbury Park 2023, filmed by Mad Le Noir

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