Artist in Residence: Marshall Trammell

Photo: Peter Meanwell
Photo: Thor Brødreskift/Borealis

Throughout 2021 and 2022 experimental percussionist, composer and archivist Marshall Trammell, otherwise known as Music Research Strategies (MRS), takes up the role as Borealis’ Artist in Residence. Since a chance meeting over breakfast in Oslo in 2016 Artistic Director Peter Meanwell and Trammell have been exploring how music and politics can intertwine. This residency, currently happening remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, explores Trammell’s research based practice tying together the symbology of the Underground Railroad* with improvisatory music practices, in an exploration of solidarity and resistance across cultures. Taking cues from texts as diverse as John Steinbeck’s The Moon is Down and Chela Sandoval’s Methodology of the Oppressed, and drawing on historical reference points such as the 1680 Pueblo Revolt and the Norwegian WWII resistance movement, Trammell’s work brings together a conversation about how we as individuals enact change within our societies and draws these words and ideas in to a improvisational musical frame. 

*The name given to the network of secret routes and safe houses enslaved African Americans would use to escape the slavery and torture of the American South.

October 2021: Marshall Trammell in Bergen

After a year of only interacting through Zoom, for 10 days in October we finally had the immeasurable pleasure of having Marshall come and experience Bergen in the flesh! The trip was both to properly introduce Marshall to the people of Bergen, but even more for Marshall to immerse himself in the atmosphere and structures of our city, which then will be used as material in the piece at the 2022 festival. From the rain to the people and how we look at our community, Marshall got an intensive deep dive into the experience that is Bergen. 
Right out of quarantine, Marshall dove into all the events planned. He held two workshops in improvisation, and got to be present at his happening at the public library where a collective picture search has been taking place, to find what represents feeling at home and welcome here in the city. Marshall both performed a drum concert himself, and got to see punk band Utflod in action at Victoria Café & Pub. He got to see exhibitions such as The Ocean at Bergen Kunsthall. And for the October edition of the Borealis Listening Club he was our honoured guest. 
Read more about the public programme HERE.
There were also a lot of beautiful in-between moments. Exchanges of experiences and talks about giving back to Bergen together with creators, innovators and thinkers over coffees. Detailed guided walks around different parts of the city, random meets in the streets, and solo explorations. Food and chats at the Borealis office, different homes and other venues. And a visit to the Norwegian martial arts centre at Godvik! 
How do you explain a city to someone in 10 days? A large aspect of his process with the piece that will be presented at Borealis 2022 is to translate his matters of interest to the local setting. Community organising and exploration of solidarity, resistance across cultures and experiences of oppression – Trammell’s work brings together a conversation about how we as individuals enact change within our societies and draws these words and ideas in to a improvisational musical frame.

We send a big thanks to everyone who made Marshall’s stay special: Oi!, Ruth Bakke, Trond Madsen, Bergen Offentlige Bibliotek, Bergen Improklubb, Victoria Café & Pub, Fenriss, Kulturhuset Wrap, Karen Werner (Radio Multe/Skottegaten FM), Osama Shaheen (DER), Tijs Ham (Grieg Academy), Grieg Academy students, Inish Sofia Hedén Næss, Rahiima Mahamuud, Carol Stampone, Nomcebo Khumalo (African Student Union), Luke Drozd, Edyta Gudbrandsen (EMPO), Maria Rusinovskaya (BEK), Stacy Brafield (Aerial), Cynthia Njoki Kangethe, Borealis volunteers, Julie Lillelien Porter (Lydgalleriet), Daniela Ramos Areas (Kiosken / HKS), Anine Bråten, Tatiana Lozano Prieto (Palmera), Niklas Hodneland and Morten Urdal (Nordnes Sjøbad, AdO), Cameron MacLeod (Aldea), Steinar Sekkingstad (Bergen Kunsthall), workshop participants & Borealis Listening Club participants.