Last Sundays: DJ Afifa Aza – “What Silences Does Our Art Speak”

DJ Afifa Aza

DJ Afifa Aza

DJ Afifa Aza is performing at our Last Sundays event today, with a sound selection which responds to the questions raised by the New Roots exhibition. Below is the statement she submitted to accompany her performance:

“I was going to die, sooner or later, whether or not I had even spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silences will not protect you…. What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language.

I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever.

Next time, ask: What’s the worst that will happen? Then push yourself a little further than you dare. Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end.

And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don’t miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, ‘If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.’ And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

― Audre Lorde

What silences does our art speak? A compilation of ideas desires and feelings inspired Audre Lorde, Pussy Riot and Wangari Maathai.


More on DJ Afifa Aza

“Are you an artist?” is a question that DJ Afifa Aza is often asked. She will tell you music is her art and that her variant of sound art often form collages of music that spans the globe. While music anchors her texts she deconstructs sound to trigger thought, feeling and action. She conceptually layers visual imagery and historical references to encourage art enthusiasts to reflect on the historical context of each layer and how that can be re-interpreted to provide new meaning.

The meanings of her names, hint at her attraction to texturally different ideas nestling close to one another.  Afifa, means pure, virtuous, honest, upright, Aza in some languages speaks to comfort, strength and power. If we think of sound as where silence ends, it explains why this DJ artist uses her sonic explorations to end silence and continuallycritique social, political and cultural issues. Aza readily juxtaposes the simple and direct with the very problematic and uses her music to bob and weave through time. Stirred by the tension wrought from difficult inquiry she began her artistic journey learning to play music with digital software but these days explores vintage sources like vinyl records and audio cassettes.

Grounded in a strong Afrocentric worldview, Afifa’s metropolitan aesthetic emphasizes community while celebrating individual expression. She is co-founder of SO((U))L, a creative experiment in the development of alternative community spaces that promote discovery and exploration of music, art, culture, social justice, equality and self-reliance. The SO((U))L community has a physical home at the “HQ” in Stony Hill, St. Andrew and a strong online presence on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. She regularly brings her sonic power to collaborative work with visual and new media artists, academics, activists and revolutionaries.

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