Aliya Orr, (b.1986) currently lives and works between London and Montreal/Tiohtià:ke. Her artistic practice moves between sculpture, installation, performance and drawing. After completing her BA in Art and Design in Cape Town, South Africa, she moved to Canada and worked professionally in the multimedia and entertainment industry on projects including LAX Airport, Madonnas Super Bowl and the Sagrada Famillia. Returning to her studio practice, she worked collaboratively under the moniker Light Society with a focus on installation and public art. She moved to the UK to complete an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2021. Her work has been exhibited internationally. Including the Museum Of Singapore, Arsenal Contemporary Montreal and Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul.
Working across scales of media - from the intimate to the architectural. I am interested in methods of spectacle and ritual and how they are enacted within daily encounters. Allowing moments of potential cosmological belonging to take place.
I think about sculpture in terms of atmosphere, where space is activated through the coming together of forces; materials, bodies, gazes, hormones etc. These interwoven performative narratives travel through time and space. Hanging in the balance.
My work incorporates live media such as wind, vibration, sound and light both from human and non-human sources. The dynamics between the material and immaterial are explored, constructed and played out in various mediums allowing for degrees of opacity, chance and the unfathomable.
In this way, the unknown is a continuous force in my work. Faith and its reliance on uncertainty becomes active methodological principles.
Growing up within the Islamic faith and outsider Sufi communities across various geographies, allows me to draw and explore a fluidity of cultural and religious imaginations.
All this is set against a personal negotiation of my own freedoms. The conflicts and contradictions that arise in living between different spaces and belief systems. This allows for an exploration of constructing identities and emotional passages through processes of belonging, longing and home beyond physical realms.
A band of travellers, drifting beings cast out on a fugitive voyage are brought together through the embracing of a strange path. Exiled and estranged they move in opaque flows of mutating systems and algorithmic patterns. Surfing the paradox and seeking a third way, they embark on a journey without destination. Their mode of transport, a musical boat.
‘Night Journey’ explores voice, embodied movement and materiality as interwoven agencies for cooperative emancipation. The work entangles histories, ambiguous mechanisms and improvisational somatics, exploring ideas of cross-generational healing and mutual becomings through sound, sculpture and performance.
The boat is inspired by a reimagining of an ancient drawing of 12th Century Islamic polymath Ismail Al-Jazari’s musical boat, one of the first recorded examples of a mechanical automata. On board the original vessel, a group of Qiyan*, transformed into mechanical puppets, sound and chant exaltations and lamentations for the Caliphs delight. In this work, the boat is repurposed as a symbol of liberation and transition.
Through a repurposing of organ pipes, cymbals, vibrational coils and pneumatics, song, drone and vocal toning are combined with AI processing, to bring about a vibrational and generative reimagining of the original work. Referencing Sufi chanting, ecstatic poetics within mystical traditions, noise is explored for its trance inducing potential.
*Qiyān were a social class of women, trained as entertainers, which existed in the pre-modern Islamic world. Qiyān is often rendered in English as 'singing girls' or 'singing slave girls', but these translations do not reflect the fact that qiyān might be of any age, and were skilled entertainers whose training extended well beyond singing, including for example dancing, composing music and verse, reciting historical or literary anecdotes, calligraphy, or shadow-puppetry.
Medium:Sound Sculpture and Performance
Size:450 x 200 x 190 cm
Medium:Performative Sculpture, Repurposed mahogany organ pipes, Latex tubing, Steel, Plastic, Glass, 3D printed ceramic, Shell
Medium:Cow intestines, Silk String, Fan, 3D ceramic printed horn
Size:200cm x 200cm x 25 cm
Pure Dog, from mispronunciations series
I’ve mistaken this heart for a dog
Everyday I've been asking for
a pure dog
a clear dog
a crystal dog
I sit and I wait and I watch
Just a dogs wanting
Im trying patient longing
Then something, maybe
Something like a murmur
Or a melting drop landing
Enough to keep going
I’ve tried caressing and caring, tending, sharing
But I’m restless, waiting, clock watching
And I feel this ongoing, this dogged longing
Patience I'm trying
Ongoing, loyal following
Now I’m reaching, grasping and crawling
Arching and aching, this longing for something, keeps calling
These cares and worries and wantings
But nothing moves with the sound of stories, sorries and lorries
As were walking and walking down this narrow path
With dogged longings
This waiting for the heart and the dog and you God.
Medium:Soft Pastel, Amazon Book Boxes
Why does the sky rounding the mountains make itself hidden?
Out here on these waters, cold air circling
Light comes to us in blasts
Everything turns to breath,
My childhood knew nothing of the power of women
I was blinded by images
Now I resuscitate stories, planting flowers
Infinity weighs heavy on the body
As do knotted timezones and histories yearnings
Through voices, distant and familiar, my hands get to work at weaving, shells, nettle, intestines
To suggest a movement that reoccurs
Migrations that leak categories
I give into knot-knowing
I give into you and I
I am learning to speak my mothers-tongue
See a sculpture as it is, for what is
What a surprise! Birds mingling on a falling horizon
A mirror casting back at you
When eyes are lifted, rare and giving
Everything changes as soon as it seen
Materials, light, bodies and gazes, combine into fields
the air is agitated
And differences emerge from within