Music | JEMP 2019 - MECHANICAL | at Swiss Church | London | Art Week


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Thursday, 12 December 2019 to Thursday, 19 December 2019



Featuring specially commissioned work by: Wojtek Blecharz and Vocal Constructivists • Ben McDonnell • Konrad Smoleński • Zorka Wollny • Curated by Kasia Sobucka 

Venue: Swiss Church, 79 Endell St, London, WC2H 9DY
Dates: 12 – 19 December 2019

Arts Territory is delighted to announce the fifth iteration of JEMP, an eight-day festival of Polish contemporary electronic and experimental music, which takes place this year at the Swiss Church, Covent Garden, London, commencing 12 December 2019.

Under the title Mechanical, the five participating artists will respond through musical composition to the utopian aspirations embodied in Polish Constructivist art, examining its emphasis on geometrical form and modern technology allied with ideal harmonies and a vision to create socially orientated abstract art. 

The festival presents specially commissioned works by the Polish artists Zorka Wollny, Wojtek Blecharz and Konrad Smoleński, as well as one by the London-based sound artist Ben McDonnell and the British choral group, Vocal Constructivists.

Curated by Kasia Sobucka, the programme explores theories of Unism, Composing Space, Calculating Space-Time Rhythms and Functionalism, a sonic discourse that includes performances that transform architectural plans and sculptures into musical compositions through voice and electronics; participatory concerts looking at rhythm in sculpture and architecture, as well as site-specific installations. 

As with earlier festivals, the performances will be accompanied by an extensive programme of workshops, open rehearsals and lectures, all of which have been devised in partnership with The Courtauld Institute of Art. The event brings together some of Poland’s most exciting visual and sound artists and composers, connecting them with local researchers, academics, architects and a choir. 

Says Kasia Sobucka: ‘After a small hiatus, we are delighted to be staging JEMP this year. The current edition brings to London some of the most exciting Polish artists that combine sound, space and architecture in their practice. This year is particularly exciting as the programme is based solely on new commissions centring on the largely unknown theme of Polish Constructivism. Our ambition is to give artists a platform for multidisciplinary experimentation and to support them in creating new and innovative work. I’m very excited to exhibit the work created by the artists as a result of this project to London audiences!’

Curator ( Name ):

Artist ( Description ): 

Wojtek Blecharz 
Wojtek Blecharz graduated with honours from Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Master of Arts) in 2006, and received a PhD in music composition at the University of California, San Diego in 2015. Since 2012 Blecharz has been curating the Instalakcje music festival at Warsaw’s Nowy Theatre, featuring non-orchestral music: sound installations, performance installations, sound sculptures, music videos and music theatre. Blecharz has also directed both of his opera-installations Transcryptum (2013) commissioned by the Grand Theatre National Opera in Warsaw and Park-Opera (2016) commissioned by the Powszechny Theatre in Warsaw. He is currently preparing the third opera installation, Body-Opera, commissioned by Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (premiered in November 2016). In 2012, he received a scholarship prize ‘for perfection in music composition’ at the International Summer Courses for New Music in Darmstadt, and was nominated for the Passport Award for classical music of the Polityka weekly. In 2013 he was selected as one of winners of the IMPLUS International Composition Competition in Graz., for the PKN Orlen Prize ‘Poles with Verve’ in Art and Culture and to the Polish Radio Channel Three Yearly Award ‘Culture Man of the Year.’His opera Transcryptum commissioned by the Grand Theatre National Opera in Warsaw was nominated as the cultural event of 2013 in Gazeta Wyborcza Daily referendum Wdechy. In 2015 a theatre/choir piece with Blecharz’s music Mutter Courage und ihre Hunden directed by Marta Górnicka commissioned by Staadtstheater Bruswick was acclaimed as one of the best 60 performances in Germany. In 2016 it received a music theatre award for the best Best Performance of a Contemporary Play (Warsaw/Wałbrzych).

The Vocal Constructivists 
The Vocal Constructivists, founded in 2011 by musicologist and performer Jane Alden, specialise in the realisation and performance of American, British, and Polish experimental scores. Since their formation in 2011, the group has premiered over 20 new commissions and offered radical new interpretations of older works. They were the first ensemble to give a fully vocal performance of Cornelius Cardew’s 1967 Treatise. Other featured composers include Mark Applebaum, Wojtek Blecharz, Anthony Braxton, Neely Bruce, Jan Duszyński, Wojciech Kosma, Paula Matthusen, Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Michael Parsons, Tom Phillips, Lauren Redhead, Bogusław Schäffer, Tomasz Sikorski and Christian Wolff. Their vivid concert presentations result from extensive engagement with composers and with source materials. They have performed at the Arcola Theatre, Café Oto, The Forge, Peckham multi-storey car park, St John’s Smith Square, South London Gallery, and V22 Summer Club. They were Ensemble-in-Residence for the 2013 Time Stands Still Notation festival at Wesleyan University (USA), at the 2013 London Contemporary Music Festival, the 2014 Music and Process conference at Christchurch University (Canterbury), the 2015 Stoke Newington Contemporary Music festival, the 2016 Dublin Ideoprenurial Entrephonics sound art festival, and were the closing act of the Southbank Centre’s 2016 Deep Minimalism festival at St John’s Smith Square. The Vocal Constructivists gave a series of tribute concerts in memory of Pauline Oliveros in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, they staged Tom Phillips’ 1969 opera Irma at Lumen Church and were the featured ensemble for an event at the British Library to mark the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Scratch Orchestra. Coming from diverse backgrounds, with ages ranging from 18 to 78, the Vocal Constructivists draw on a variety of artistic influences—classical, global, avant-garde, eclectic, and dramatic. Experimentalism is a primary motivation, propelling the group away from an expected sound world. Their CD Walking Still is available on the Innova label (#898). 

Ben McDonnell 
Ben McDonnell graduated with a masters degree in photography from the Royal College of Art In 2017, his undergraduate degree was Jazz composition and performance from Leeds College of Music. His studio is in south east London, UK. His work uses photography, sound and sculpture to raise questions around stability, support and structure. He draws inspiration from sound, music and the built environment. McDonnell was recently selected for the Chisenhale Studio Residency in 2019 and by Outset Contemporary Art Fund for a residency in Vancouver, which was supported by the British Council and Vancouver Biennale. In 2018 he completed a studio residency and exhibition with PADA in Lisbon, Portugal, and was commissioned to make new work for Concealer, part of Peckham 24 photography festival. His work has been shown internationally and is held in public and private collections. Ben is a lecturer in photography at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Konrad Smoleński
Konrad Smoleński is a multimedia artist working in sound, video, installation and performance. His work combines punk rock aesthetics with the precision that is characteristic of minimalism. Through the use of sound objects that are plucked directly from popular culture or of his own creation, Smoleński examines the effects of free-flowing energy. This is evident in works where a sound signal is manipulated live and/or is forced into an interaction with the audience. By exploring the possibilities of electricity, sound waves and PA systems, he manipulates the meanings that are usually attributed to objects connected with rock music and contemporary art culture. He is winner of the Deutsche Bank Foundation Award — Views (2011). He represented Poland at the 55th Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition at the Polish Pavilion (2013). He is leader of the BNNT sound performance project and co-founder of the PENERSTWO artistic collective. His works are held in the collections of Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Ludwig Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, Budapest, Museum of Art, Łódź, CCA Ujazdowski Castle, Warsaw.

Zorka Wollny 
Zorka Wollny creates acoustic compositions for institutions, factories and empty buildings. Her work inhabits a space between art, theatre and contemporary music, and is closely connected to the historic and functional context of specific architectural sites. Wollny’s collaborative production style often involves public rehearsals and workshops in which she creates structures of cooperation with individuals as well as groups and communities, such as composers, students, actors and activists. In one of her most recent works, Unmögliche Oper (2017), she involved several choirs and citizens of the German town of Oldenburg in an exploration of the voice as a tool of expression and public debate. Order (2015) was composed for the Teutonic Castle in Swiecie, Poland, a 15-person volunteer choir, three percussionists and electronics. In Ophelias. Iconography of Madness (2012), presented at the Museum of Art in Łódź, Wollny staged a performance by eleven actresses, representing the figure of Ophelia as depicted in several historical theatre productions of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In Oratorio for Orchestra and Warsaw Citizens Choir (2011), developed for the Warsaw Autumn international festival of contemporary music, Wollny devised a concentrated, polyphonic manifestation in the city centre of Warsaw, that was produced in collaboration with NGO’s and the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and is based on the political manifestos and agendas of the participating activists. At the 2018 CTM Opening Concert, Wollny created a new work especially for the occasion using her 2016 installation Vox Populi as a starting point.

Other Info: 


12 December 2019
Konrad Smoleński: 6CH
Location: The Swiss Church
Time: 3.30 – 8pm 
Tickets: £8 (£6 concs) - booked in advance, prices on the door: £12 (£10 concs)

15 December 2019
Wojtek Blecharz and the Vocal Constructivists
Location: The Swiss Church
Time: 8.30 – 9.30pm
Tickets: £12 (£10 concs)

19 December 2019
Ben McDonnell and Zorka Wollny
Location: The Swiss Church
Time: 7.30 – 9.00pm 
Tickets: £12 (£10 concs)


18 – 19 December 2019
Zorka Wollny: Constructing Site with Sound, workshop
Location: The Swiss Church
Time: (18 Dec) 5.30pm – (19 Dec) 8.30am
Tickets: Free

Venue ( Name ):

Venue ( Address ): 

79 Endell St, London, WC2H 9DY

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