Belu-Olisa Pierre Sarkissian
I am a multi-disciplinary artist and senior undergraduate from Brooklyn, NY, studying music and environmental justice at Brown University. I had an early training in dance before focusing on music once attending Laguardia High School, where I was trained in classical opera for voice. While attending Brown, I found comfort in improvisation and the creative aspects of play in performance—escaping the technical qualities of my classical training. Currently, my work deals with exploration and spiritualism. It also considers and confronts the boundaries between the self and its internal and external environment; sound and (its) movement in relation to space and the body; world-making (sonic and story); and pleasure and presence in listening and moving. My interests include but are not limited to, extremely long bike rides, floating on my back with my eyes closed in the ocean, trees and quantum physics, long walks and sweet interactions with strangers, reading or writing on the train, and getting sun.
End of November: I'm sharing this excerpt of a movement and mirror improvisation. My creativity during Covid was limited, but also expanded. During the fall semester, I took a class called Poetry in/to Performance and the challenge of working over zoom became an opportunity for our class to explore the bounds of the computer medium and see what was possible within a frame. This practice of working on Zoom informed a lot of my independent explorations, as I became fascinated with perception, and the concept of fractures and fractals. The themes of moving away from the self and towards the self were ones I was constantly exploring (i.e. identity crisis but also opportunity to rediscover). I was really intrigued by questions of double consciousness and developing a relationship with the perceived self.
Investigation of mirror, self, reflected self, and my relationship to it. Consideration of my reflection as distinct from me and someone/something I can interact with through a mirror as a medium.
Play! with my roommate Andrew Mancini, dress-up and costumes as we transform my bedroom into a studio for movement exploration.
This was a sketchbook drawing I made in June while camping at the beach. My drawing process is far from gentle and I like to explore the agency of my own body when making things with my hands—I like to allow my hands to drive the direction the piece will go and drawing becomes a very tactile and embodied practice through these processes of allowing. Like in dance, when drawing I like to allow my body to improvise and reveal. I don't have a long background in the visual arts but I do enjoy the play of color and shape, of attention and release that make their way into most of my art practices—and drawing is another medium for expression that I enjoy on occasion.
This piece was a gentle exploration of a collaboration of analog sounds with electronic effects. It is an excerpt of a longer piece made entirely of recorded sounds, my voice, environment, and heartbeat, then paired with delay effects to create a percussive drive.
This is a draft of a project that I began in December after completing a class in electronic music production. I hadn't taken full advantage of the possibilities for production in my final for the class, so this is a first attempt at exploring further my own production capabilities and experimenting with creating an ocean of sound that moves. I recommend listening to this with headphones to experience the movement of sound in a three-dimensional sonic environment.
A poem from a yearlong investigation of the question, “Is a rock alive?” in my capstone paper called "Interrogating the Line.”
I made this piece for a final for my class on working with the digital audio workstation Ableton. It consists of a layering of moody swells and improvised melodies and lyrics. The chord progression is one that I had been working on since I was abroad in Samoa last spring, before I came back to the U.S. due to COVID. But I really was obsessing over this chord progression for a while, which when played on acoustic guitar, evokes the imagery and nostalgia of a classical guitarist playing on a warm night in Spain.
"What happens when we reimagine air from ‘dead/empty space’ to a universal field/substance that we are constantly interacting with and that everything is interacting with and within. It’s something that is difficult to conceptually as well as physically impossible to grasp - but what if we conceptualized the air/space we exist in to be a substance like water is. You, a two-legged animal without the capacity to fly lives on the bottom of the ocean. Birds however can fly in this medium we call air with the ability to breath and more throughout a fluid/field/substance - your mass a concoction of gravitational pull and interaction with the field permeating around you. Somethings fall to the bottom, like an apple from a tree - somethings float towards the bottom, like a feather from the sky. Other things move upwards like smoke from incense as it spirals, waves and rises in the atmosphere - creating shapes and movement that suggests some kind of relationality with the pace it lingers in. It hangs, suspended to a degree in and on some environment or material, invisible to you."
I also explore the question of what really separates us in my capstone paper "Interrogating the Line: Using Quantum Theory to Investigate and Reimagine the Space Between Us." These two excerpts stand in to represent a 40 page project that has expanded beyond its original due date into another semester. Once submitted, it will most likely continue beyond graduation.
About the Guild
The RISD Museum Guild is a group of undergraduate students from local colleges and universities who work toward representation, inclusion, and advocacy for student voices in the museum space. We typically plan and facilitate public programs that allow artists from local colleges to share their processes. During the pandemic, the RISD Museum Guild has had to adjust our modes of working collaboratively. Like you, we squished our faces into a shifting mosaic of Zoom rectangles, with members calling in from Providence, New Orleans, New Delhi, London, and more. Unravel: An Anti-Exhibition has grown out of this shared virtual space.