Not Strictly Speaking: The Voice as Resistance with Vivienne Griffin and Helen Cammock

Mar 21, 07:12 AM

The communal voice has a long history within the resistance movement, from African American spirituals, to the protest songs of the civil rights movement and the current pro-Palestine marches. In this episode we explore the enduring power of group singing and how it can embody resistance and resilience with Turner prize winning artist Helen Cammock and artist and Somerset House Studios resident, Vivienne Griffin.  

Vivienne's sound work often centres around the voice, both her own and those of small choral ensembles. For their piece for Assembly they are drawing on the voice of the harp as a symbol of resistance within the history of British colonialism.  The work will be performed by Northern Irish harpist Úna Monaghan alongside a mechanised harp created by Vivienne, who will together interpret a text score. 

Helen Cammock works across film, printmaking, performance and writing. Her work explores the role of the voice within the creation and maintenance of power structures as well as how the communal voice can subvert the dominant narratives of history. Here Helen unpacks how her work with communal voice has interrogated the idea of the voice as a site of resistance and the body as resilience.

Not Strictly Speaking Series
The voice is the first sound we encounter and the first instrument we learn to play, we are subject to the disembodied voice of politicians while the communal voice is raised in protest.  In conjunction with this year’s Assembly at Somerset House, this 3 part podcast series explores different manifestations of the voice and how it informs our ways of thinking.

Each episode follows one artist featured in the 2024 programme, as they unpack their work with the voice in dialogue with another artist. Vocalist and composer Elaine Mitchener is joined by the pioneer of extended vocal technique Joan La Barbara to explore the voice as an instrument, looking at how the human voice can channel meaning without words. Artist Prem Sahib plays with the shape shifting nature of political speech and its potential to inhabit other bodies alongside composer Felicia Atkinson on the mercurial nature of recording, while the vocal work of sound artist Vivienne Griffin is placed in dialogue with artist Helen Cammock on the concept of the voice as a site of resistance.

The sound for the series is composed by French composer and sound artist Felicia Atkinson who crafts a series of bespoke sound commissions for each episode.

Commissioned by Somerset House Studios
Producer - Alannah Chance
Exec Producer - Eleanor Ritter-Scott
Series Composer - Felicia Atkinson
Mix - Harry Murdoch

Assembly was supported by PRS Foundation’s The Open Fund for Organisations, John S Cohen Foundation, Kitmapper, The Wire Magazine and Goethe Institute London.