(indistinct chatter)

Arini Byng

22 - 30 August, 2023


Arini Byng: (indistinct chatter) is an intimate and personal work with only my father and myself on screen, in an improvised duet. We negotiate with each other’s limbs, vulnerably and tenderly but also with the subtle tensions inherent in the discovery and exploration of cultural and familial themes. In the dance, that the piano periodically reminds us is taking place, the introduced objects serve as material juxtapositions to the soft limbs. Though more importantly, they serve as personal and historical markers for the dancers who must build their new forms around them.

The emotional range of familial relationships and histories now common in our culture all played a part in my decision on what objects to include. I thought that they should speak of our nuclear family’s particular two-household history, to the history of our family in Black America, and to perceptions of that history.

My father grew up black working-class in the American northeast in the ’50s and ’60s. It was a time when American manufacturing and production were still centred in that region and anyone who wanted to work could find employment. Because of the colour of their skin however, for years his parents worked three jobs between the two of them before they could become home-owning members of the [Black] American Middle Class.

The introduced objects address not only this Black American history but also the personal histories of children from divorced households anywhere – exploring the possibilities, problems and potentialities of reconstructing relationships with an absentee parent. Constructing these explorations in the context of a dance returns the participants to their original state of pure co-dependence while also addressing cultural resonances.

The title relates to a caption seen in films when there are multiple audible conversations taking place, but no particular dialogue is discernible…(indistinct chatter) is the noise of people who are taking no notice of a soundless, wordless exchange of information taking place in the foreground of the scene, to the left of centre stage.

Arini Byng (indistinct chatter) 2018; single-channel video. Musical score: Luke Howard. Courtesy of the artist © Arini Byng