Rule of Three



by Karen Cusolito

View an image of the artwork

A huge woman towers over us. Constructed from reused steel, she weighs an enormous nine tons. In her hands, she cups a source of light, raising it to the sky as if in celebration. The radiating sphere glows against the dusky backdrop and the dull brown of the sculpture. Although her face is concealed from our low, slanted angle, her body language projects joy. Her shoulders are thrown back and her frame twisted in a manner that accentuates its curves. The supple arcs remain at odds with the solid, brittle material from which she is composed.

Words by Sophia Martin-Pavlou

The Selfish Giant

directed by Clio Barnard
Feature film

View a still from the film

The chimneys of a power station cloud the horizon, their brown smoke spouting against a silver sky. Aeroplane trails score the atmosphere’s expanse, as engines bulldozing through its fine precipitation. Telephone pylons act as an over-encumbered Atlas to the heavens, shouldering their horizontal, widescreen weight. The wires demarcate the electric fence containing Arbor and Swifty, two young boys excluded from education but bestowed with an entrepreneurial spark. Hawking looted cable to a local dealer, they hope to make a small fortune, the inorganic blankness of the industrial landscape offering them escapism and hope.

Words by Elizabeth Brown


by Konono Nº1

View the album cover

Formed as an acoustic masikulu ensemble, Konono Nº1 later wired their likembés to microphones. Approached uneasily by the Anglo-American press, the group’s ‘tradi-modern’ style was heard as a marriage of Africa’s participatory traditions and the technological drive of electronic music. The ‘trance’ taxonomy was employed to evoke rave and ritual, while accounts of the group’s salvaged equipment appealed both to the avant-garde and to subtly othering narratives. Distorted and electrified, the metallic hum of the likembé resonated with a new audience, which may have been left unsure how to classify these sounds, but wore out the repeat button all the same.

Words by John Wadsworth

More to discover

Ecstasy: The image linked above was taken by Scott Hess. You can visit Karen Cusolito's website here, read an article about her work on the Smithsonian Magazine site, and watch a video about American Steel Studios (which was founded by Cusolito) here.

The Selfish Giant: You can watch the official trailer here. Leigh Singer has interviewed Clio Barnard (the film's director) for Dazed Digital, as have Sean O'Hagan for The Observer, Tom Seymour for The Skinny, and Jonathan Romney for BFI (video).

Congotronics: You can listen to 'Paradiso' here, and visit the group's official website here. David Font-Navarrete has written an academic article about Congotronics, exoticism, and authenticity for the Ethnomusicology Review.

Today's connection

Ecstasy and the instruments played on Congotronics were created from materials found in junkyards. In The Selfish Giant, Arbor and Swifty sell scrap to a junkyard.

Question of the day

Which junkyard-themed artworks would you recommend?
Let us know on Facebook, Patreon, or Twitter.

I am an enormous fan of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s paintings. His works have the type of organised chaos (like a junkyard) that I aspire to as an artist myself. (→)

– Alex Ketley, choreographer and director of The Foundry (via The Brief →)

Also on Silent Frame