Ikon announces the world premiere of year zero (2020), a new audiovisual artwork by British artist Haroon Mirza.
Taking place on Wednesday 16 December 2020 at 8pm via Ikon Gallery’s YouTube account, year zero is a new commission by Ikon, with Art Fund support. The work is part of Mirza’s ‘modular opera’ series, composed by him and realised in collaboration with a singer, musician and designer. Produced during the COVID-19 lockdown, it is inspired by the widely circulated smartphone footage of Italians singing from their balconies and windows at the start of the pandemic, their small but rousing balcony performances capturing a collective sense of optimism and unity.
Part recital, part voice experiment, year zero is performed by vocalist Sarah-Jane Lewis and accompanied by an electronic score performed by musician Jack Jelfs.
The central element of the work documents an evening performance by Lewis in the residential courtyard where Mirza’s studio is located. This recital was programmed by Mirza’s studio (hrm199) for his neighbours in the building during the UK’s second national lockdown in November 2020. Filmed by both Mirza and audience members from neighbouring apartments, the footage focuses on Lewis who wears an outfit of gold lamé and electric blue body paint designed by Osman Yousefzada for a previous performance at the Lahore Biennale 2020.
For this commission I was somehow compelled to think about a very local community and how we can connect to another community elsewhere through music, performance and storytelling. I saw it as an opportunity to both develop the narrative of my modular opera but also bring something meaningful to being at home. As I developed the piece it became very much about breathing – the unconscious process we do at all times yet take for granted. Breathing has been the focus of so much attention in 2020.