The Insurrections Ensemble, a collection of poets and musicians from India and South Africa, has been working for the last five years on understanding the relationship between word, voice, expression and sound around shared social and political concerns between the two societies.
Tina and Malika will be joining as residents from South Africa. Ari Sitas will also join from South Africa, for part of the residency. Priya and Sumangala from New Delhi will be full time participants, with Pritam and Ahsan’s participation whenever possible.
Award winning dramatist, playwright, performer and poet, Malika has been active as a curator for poetry festivals and projects. She has four of her own poetry anthologies, besides her work being featured in several local and international publications. Malika is a founder-member of the Cape Town-based women writers’ collective WEAVE, co-editor of their multi-genre anthology WEAVEʼs Ink @ Boiling Point: A selection of 21st Century Black Womenʼs writing from the Southern Tip of Africa.
Tina is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and author who performs extensively locally and internationally. She has produced and staged her own shows, as well as collaborated with various artists on different productions in South Africa. Her music draws on an eclectic blend of styles including, folk, jazz, latin and contemporary. She grew up in a jazz family. Her father was one of the Capeʼs legendary guitarists and Tina has been exploring the Khoisan, and Slave roots of music whilst becoming one of the main voices of the mass democratic movement of the 1980s. She has released three CDs one of which is a remarkable childrenʼs compilation.
Poet, dramatist and sociologist, Ari is a vital force in South Africaʼs cultural life. It was his poetry, especially Slave Trades, and its musical texture, that was one of the starting points for the idea that something could be done between the two countries. Ari, often in Delhi, met the innovators of modern Indian music, the Sufi philosopher and performer Madan Gopal Singh, the guitarist Susmit Sen, the poets and dramatists of Delhi and threw his energy into this collaboration.
Singer extraordinaire, composer and economist, classically trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music, she has spent the last decade collecting the musical compositions of Indiaʼs anti-colonial and working-class music from a tradition known as the Indian Peopleʼs Theatre Association. She has sung and composed for the theatre, is currently composing music for the poetry of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and completing her book on the aesthetics of the “Radical Impulse”. It was her meeting with South African poet Ari Sitas that started the Indo-African collaboration of Insurrections.
The sarodʼs new genius, Pritam has worked extensively with Sufi Musician and singer Madan Gopal Singh and was key in Sumangalaʼs attempt to rework the musical traditions of Indiaʼs resistance providing textured renditions of the 1940s and 1950s compositions. He is a remarkable composer in his own right, an improviser and soloist- at home with classical and contemporary music. He is also a part of the experimental Indian-Belgian trio called Kurta Environment.
Ahsan Ali is from the seventh generation of musicians from a traditional musical family of the Kirana Gharana. Trained from the age of seven by his father Ustad Asif Ali khan, Ahsan is a part of a band called Hum Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma, the Japanese-American cellist. Having travelled extensively to various Festivals of India and several others, Ahsan has worked in several genres like Sufi, Gospel and Jazz.
Priya Sen is an artist and filmmaker based in New Delhi. She joined the Insurrections Ensemble at Poetry Africa in Cape Town in 2014, where she tried to modulate the intensity of the ensembleʼs sound, composing with video alongside. She has also been trained in piano and flute.