Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts

Charlena Russell playing violin next to two video screens featuring Peter Morin's NDN Love Songs
May 30, 2020 to August 9, 2020

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. 

Selected Artworks

Sebastian De Line (Haudenosaunee-Métis-Cantonese descent; Bear Clan)
With Adria Kurchina-Tyson and Nathan Thanyehténhas Brinklow 
Walking Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen
(walking + words before all else)

Audio tour

Collection of the artist
Curators: Dylan Robinson & Candice Hopkins
Sound recording / engineering: Matt Rogalsky

Artist Sebastian De Line has created an audio tour based on the Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen (words before all else) also known as the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address. The Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen are the words spoken at the start of the morning that give thanks to all of our relations. As it was taught to De Line by his/their family, these words are normally said while standing in place. Walking Ohénton Karihwatéhkwen is different in that it is based on relational movement, particularly circular flow akin to dance. 

The tracks were recorded on Haudenosaunee and Anishinaabe territory in Ken’tarokwen (Kingston, Ontario) with the Agnes Etherington Art Centre and Queen’s University, and are spoken in Kanien'keha, Anishinaabemowin, Cantonese, and English. This work is made available online with the permission of the artists, curators and ICI.

This performative sound piece encompasses a series of audio tracks, encouraging the exhibition visitor to walk through the indoor and outdoors spaces of the Gallery, while considering gratitude, loss, remembrance, relationality, learning and unlearning. Visitors to the Gallery are encouraged to refer to De Line’s track list and use their own cell phones for a self-guided tour through Soundings


Raven Chacon
Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation
Currently based in Albuquerque NM

American Ledger (No. 1), 2018
Vinyl banner
Collection of the artist

Raven Chacon's American Ledger (No. 1) is a score of seven lines made up of musical notation, symbols and shapes





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

Performance Schedule

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. Video documentation of both performances will be made available in future.

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. 

Kitchener Waterloo Community Foundation logo recognizing The Musagetes Fund Bilingual logo for Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund  




Kitchener-based musician Charlena Russell performs Peter Morin’s score NDN Love Songs at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. Photo: Nathan Saliwonchyk.

Related Events & Programs

Jun 21 2020 - 14:00
to Jun 21 2020 - 15:00
Event Type: Special Events
Join us for a livestream performance of Kite's Listener as part of Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts
Jun 24 2020 - 19:00
to Jun 24 2020 - 20:30
Event Type: Talks & Tours
Join us for an online conversation with the curators of Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts
Jul 25 2020 - 14:00
to Jul 25 2020 - 16:00
Event Type: Special Events
Join us for two free live performances as part of Soundings: An Exhibition in Five Parts.