Curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson
How can a score be a call and tool for decolonization?
Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts features newly commissioned scores, performances, videos, sculptures and sound by Indigenous and other artists who respond to this question. Unfolding in a sequence of five parts, the scores take the form of beadwork, videos, objects, graphic notation, historical belongings, and written instructions. During the exhibition, these scores are activated at specific moments by musicians, dancers, performers and members of the public gradually filling the gallery and surrounding public spaces with sound and action.
The exhibition is cumulative, gathering an ever-changing community of artworks, shared experience and engagement as it travels. Soundings shifts and evolves, gaining new artists and players in each location. Some artworks have multiple parts, others change to their own rhythm as the exhibition grows.
At the core of the exhibition is a grounding in concepts of Indigenous land and territory. To move beyond the mere acknowledgement of land and territory here means offering instructions for sensing and listening to Indigenous histories that trouble the colonial imaginary. Soundings activates and asserts Indigenous resurgence through the actions these artworks call forth.
Artists: Raven Chacon and Cristóbal Martínez, Sebastian De Line, Maggie Groat, Kite, Cheryl L’Hirondelle, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Ogimaa Mikana, Peter Morin, Heidi Aklaseaq Senungetuk, Olivia Whetung and Tania Willard, with more performers, artists and composers invited to respond and create new works as the exhibition travels to each new venue.
Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation
Currently based in Albuquerque NM
American Ledger (No. 1), 2018
Collection of the artist
For many players with sustaining and percussive instruments, voices, coins, axe and wood, a police whistle,
and a match.
For at least 13 minutes.
For any number of musicians with any number of non-musicians.
Each line is a minute or longer.
Line 1 is for both percussive and bendable tones.
Line 2 begins with a warbly long tone crossfading into waves of harmonic or dynamic increases. X = chop wood.
Line 3 is for police whistle(s). Other instruments may join.
Line 4 is for coins to be thrown. Two instruments may accompany.
Line 5 is a line.
Line 6 is a grand decelerando ending with the striking of a match.
Line 7 is for acknowledging groupings of 5's and 4's. Chop wood. End with everyone and everything.
Peter Morin (Tahltan-French)
NDN Love Songs, 2018
Vinyl transfer, digtial video
With Navarana Igloliorte
Collection of the artist
Performed by Charlena Russell at Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery on 20 June 2020
NDN Love Songs presents seven short videos that can be read as 'drum portraits.' The drums featured are from the Royal BC Museum, and each represent someone that Peter Morin has loved in his life, and for whom he has not fully been able to express that love. Playing in succession in a line and moving at different speeds, the drum portraits can be interpreted through the written score on the neighbouring wall composed by Morin. This is the score performed by Charlena Russell, which was recorded and will be added as an audio track to each drum portrait as the exhibition travels to its next venue:
A decolonized body has the ability to remake love/loving/sex/sexuality
One draw across the strings is a body
One draw across the strings for the release of breath
One draw across the strings for the acknowledgement of desire
One draw across the strings is to let go
One draw across the strings to complete their name
The rest is up to you
Repeat eight times
Tania Willard (Secwépemc)
Wood burning fire ring, laser etched leather, wood, vinyl transfer
Collection of the artist
Tania Willard conceived of Surrounded/Surrounding as a communal installation consisting of a custom-made fire ring with laser-etched leather stools and a vinyl transfer graphic that can be read as a score determined by the spaces in between a stack of cord wood. The designs along the top and bottom of this score, also echoed in the design of the fire ring, are drawn from a bandolier bag that the artist found in the collection of Indigenous belongings at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre in Kingston, Ontario.
About the score, Willard has said: "The idea of the score is physical labour, family, the elements and warmth - quick breaths, condensed cold air punctuated by axe strikes and chainsaws like cracking icicles through the crisp air - ghost notes represent the 'unknown' Anishinaabe artist who made the bandolier bag - 4/8 is the physical size of one face cord - I burn like 5 cords for a winter. My dad goes out and gets firewood - on our land, Indigenous territories in Secwepemculecw."
Kitchener artist Alysha Brilla, accompanied by Sammy Duke, Yasin Dewji and Gerima Harvey, performed her interpretation of the score to Surrounded/Surrounding on Saturday 25 July, 2020.
Saturday 20 June: Charlena Russell performed Peter Morin's NDN Love Songs on site at KWAG at 2:00pm.
Sunday 21 June: Kite performed Listener via livestream at 2:00pm EST. View the video recording of her performance on Facebook Live.
Saturday 25 July: Long Branch performed Raven Chacon's American Ledger (No. 1) outdoors at KWAG at 2:00pm. Alysha Brilla performed Tania Willard's Surrounded/Surrounding after Long Branch's performance.
Curators Talk: Candice Hopkins & Dylan Robinson
Soundings co-curators Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson joined KWAG Senior Curator Crystal Mowry for an online Curators Talk via Zoom to share their insights into the creation of this multidisciplinary touring exhibition featuring Indigenous artists creating works that function as scores, and how the activation of these scores enact calls for decolonization. The entirety of this Curators Talk can now be viewed on our website and via YouTube.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery is thankful for the ongoing support of Momentum Developments and Sorbara Law in the presentation of our Curators Talk program.
Exhibition tour has been organized by Independent Curators International (ICI).
Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts is an exhibition curated by Candice Hopkins and Dylan Robinson, and organized by Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Canada. The traveling exhibition is organized by Independent Curators International (ICI). The exhibition and tour are made possible, in part, with the generous support from ICI’s International Forum and the ICI Board of Trustees. Additional support has been provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter Program, the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund of Bader Philanthropies, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Kingston Arts Fund through the Kingston Arts Council, and the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund at Queen’s University.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the further support of the Musagetes Fund held at Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.