Out of the fogs from the Bay Area arises the conscious narratives of Oakland’s own KNXVES (UC Berkeley Architecture student, formerly of The Ten Thousand) that opens up the conversation & questions about the civilized nature of humanity from contemporary events & issues to the dawn of cognitive existence. Presenting the sound & visual series Civilized Pt. 1-4, featuring direction from Nicole Sievert—KNXVES offers up meditations through musical expressions that confront questions of black identity in white spaces, the degradation & destruction of the body & culture all the while asking the almost rhetorical inquiry of “What does it mean to be Civilized?” Citing the revolutionary writer Frantz Omar Fanon, the events in Ferguson & all upheavals rising up against injustice everywhere; KNXVES presents the first look at “Part 1” of a four-part series that offers up a view of what it’s like to be black in current day America where now (more than ever) the most regressive trends rule & govern social & civic functions.
KNXVES offered up the following official & exclusive introduction to the Civilized Pt. 1-4 series with the following insights on how the inception of multi-disciplinary project:
One day, during a conversation with some friends about the problems around race, class and gender the topic turned to so-called civilized behavior and culture. It didn’t take long to realize that, in many ways, no progress had been made—if progress is even a useful concept—and in a lot of ways, what was termed uncivilized was in many ways normal. Specifically the topic of recorded state violence and its widespread broadcasting. A weird normalization of watching people suffer. From Gladiators to NASCAR to Micheal Brown. I came to the conclusion that maybe there has never been a true civilization on this planet. Maybe none of us are civilized.
The Nicole Sievert video for KNXVES’ “Civilized Pt. 1” offers up shot edits & fuzzy static effects that respond to the bee hive hum that zaps & rumbles about the abstract piano blues & digitally dissonant rhythms. Sievert employees a throwback home-recorded look that occasionally displays vintage-looking on-screen lyrics as KNXVES’ narrative of knife twisting vicious behaviors are accentuated through a barrage of effects that distort the artist’s minimalist appearance against the gallery blank background. The reiterations of “I watched you twist the knife” are obfuscated among a moody brew of audio & film effects that drive home a plea for human understanding in a world that has traded civility for the hubris of suspicious self-interests. KNXVES voices out a solemn song that bares witness to the wrongs against POC & all marginalized people that continuously seeks to understand why the world rejects all semblance of civility.
Also behold KNXVES’s video for “Reasons Pt. 2” from Alexandra Nicole Solis-Sison that sees our Oakland hero performing low-lit practice space & seeking rationales & reasons. With similar occaisional on-screen lyrics & choppy edit cuts; KNXVES engages in a war of atrition that pits their reasons against anothers. With lightbull fixtures hanging around & KNXVES dishing out grooves on a drum kit; “Reasons Pt. 2” is sung like a traditional hymn updated for the conversations that are only way people are going to get beyond obstinate & prejudiced clashes & move toward the enlightened paths of human understandings.
Listen to more from KNXVES via the artist’s site.