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REVIEW // Shade Podcast LIVE – Interludes

Shade Interludes


REVIEW // Shade Podcast LIVE – Interludes

Takudzwa Mudiwa reviews the live launch of the new season of the Shade Podcast – called Interludes – an immersive audio experience that took place on 26th October.

In Hauser & Wirth London, Axel Kacoutié and Lou Mensah sit in front of a Amy Sherald painting titled “For love, and for country” (2022). The piece is part of an exhibition called The World We Make and it’s Amy’s first solo show in Europe. The piece is also the subject of ‘Interludes: Dream Recurred’, the fourth episode in the new season of the Shade Podcast, which this live podcast experience is launching.

Interludes is a collaboration between multi award-winning sound artist Axel Kacoutié and Shade, where six contemporary artists answer the question: What does healing sound like?

Axel Kacoutie and Lou Mensh by Kid Circus

Lou Mensh and Axel Kacoutie. Photo credit: Kid Circus

In previous seasons of the Shade Podcast, host Lou would hold interviews between artists and herself regarding how art has moved through their life. It would result in conversations about what art means personally, but also beyond one person. A particularly harrowing season of Shade was after the Black Lives Matter protests of summer 2020 – season four reflected on how the media responded to the uprising.

Speaking to Lou before the show, she told me that though those conversations were timely, she felt that after this response the audience needed a place where they could find some sort of solace. “I just thought next season I want it to be a gift to the audience and for people who are listening, something that can hold them, comfort them and acknowledge the need for everyone just to take a step back – to take some respite and some selfcare. I just wanted to create a small space through this series with Axel that would help people do that.”

This is evident through Axel’s sonic response. At the launch, they play us a snippet of the episode ‘Dream Recurred’ – Amy discusses the piece “For love, and for country”. Her images depict Black Americans in ordinary everyday situations and also reimagines them in historical moments: This piece in particular was a recreation of the photograph VJ Day in Times Square (1945). She fondly mentions friends she cares deeply about and wanting them to be represented, and it is followed by Axel using audio of Amy simply repeating the words “love is love” – the words linger in the air and the audience take them in. After sitting in comfortable silence for some seconds, Axel explains why the use of repetition not only emphasises the statement but reminds us how grounding the listening experience can be.

Credit : Amy Sherald ‘For love, and for country.’ 2022

“I feel like there’s a lot that the body and ear can do and need and I wanted to speak to that intuitive response,” they continue, “to follow how sound and music works to encourage and evoke a stillness,” a stillness that is often difficult to find in podcasting.

Lou talked briefly about how as the Producer she broke the housekeeping rules of podcasting – there is no traditional intro and outro, no break for ads and sponsors. Lou wanted all of that removed, “I wanted it to be an audio but also a physical and an emotional space to rest. For people to just relax. In audio there’s a lot of talk, a lot of chat, there’s a lot of fast energy. There’s a lot of slick audio making but I feel like it misses that capacity to hold people emotionally. I just felt like it was something I would try and do.” I felt like this approach of break in structure from Lou and these moments of quietness and minimalism for Axel worked well together – healing itself is such a nuanced and deeply personal topic; it is never linear therefore giving the listener a moment of reflection and breaking tradition feels just.

For those who have been listening to Shade for a while, you may remember the first glimpse of collaboration between Axel and Lou was the final episode of the 2021 four-part series of conversations exploring anti-racism in the arts, co-curated by Shade and Convergence. They’ve wanted to work together since, both confirming that it had been a year long process to get Interludes made. However, to add a timeline to projects like these is reductive. In some of the Interludes episodes, the sounds Axel used draw inspiration from projects that were made ten years ago, “It’s all part of the healing process that being able to give life to things that you thought would never see the light of day,” Lou adds, “I’ve been working in the arts for nearly 30 years so there is no way that all the things I’ve experienced and been a part of, have not been a part of this series because they have, so it’s a lifelong process of memories and inspirations.”

This project was as much for the creators as it is for the listener.

Listen to Interludes on The Shade Podcast now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other popular podcast apps.

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