Singapore / Thailand, Music, 2020


Photo: Irma Fadhila

Fingertips reach out softly, a cheek brushes up against another, an arm is carefully unfolded by a gentle guiding hand, feet swish by each other in an almost imperceptible caress… Tara Transitory uses touch, movement, feedback, proximity, and sound to celebrate inter-dependency, vulnerability, and collectivity. Her performances attempt to foster spatial and bodily sonic relationships with and between listeners, with a desire to open us up to listen through the self, machines, and space, ultimately dissolving into the collective body.

After fluctuating between Berlin and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, where she founded the performance space e x t a n t a t i o n in 2016, Tara has set stronger roots in Berlin to focus on a new collaboration with her partner Nguyễn Baly as Nguyễn + Transitory. Working mainly with modular synthesizers and analog tape, their first project together, Bird Bird, Touch Touch, Sing Sing, debuted in 2019 as an immersive sound performance in which they look into how frequencies, the physicalities of producing sound, and its incidental vibrations relate to cognitive memories, stored emotions, and catharsis. Can such universal feelings give rise to close ties between individual bodies in an audience of strangers? Can sound, proximity, and touch be modulated to open up heightened forms of embodied listening together? What kinds of fragilities, if any, can arise within a public performance? What kind of possibilities are created (or hindered) when a couple works intensively together over an extended period of time? Through this ongoing sonic research, Nguyễn + Transitory experiment with radical interpersonal relation­ships or, as the artists express it, “the attempt to reconnect with lost magic.

Throughout her past work and performances, Tara has relentlessly sought the interstices. For years, as One Man Nation, she explored a nomadic, trans artistic identity that defies the status quo of divisions and groupings imposed on us by modern societies and nation states. She continues today to navigate sound, synthesis, noise, rhythm, and performance from a less colonial angle, to search for ways of bending hierarchies and institutional power structures, to question ownership (with a strict refusal to use samples), and to avoid rote categorisation and keywords so often used in talking about music. Then as much as now, her work sonifies our own personal and societal borders in an effort to open them up into liminal zones of potential.

An extensive collaborator, Tara has worked with the likes of Audrey Chen, Kakushin Nishihara, Chaiwat Prumprajum, Tzu Ni, Shian Law, Thanisa Fah, Truna, Wukir Suryadi (Senyawa), Iman Jimbot (The Future Sounds Of Folk) and Pierre Bastien. She has performed internationally at CTM Festival (Berlin), donaufestival (Krems), Gaite Lyrique (Paris), Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao), TPAM (Yokohama), Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei), Wiener Festwochen (Vienna), and SAVVY Contemporary (Berlin) among many others.

Text: Taïca Replansky


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