This autumn New Art Exchange launches Sounds Like Her: Gender, Sound Art & Sonic Cultures, a groundbreaking exhibition, set to broaden existing approaches to sound art, and to contest Eurocentric and patriarchal frameworks that have informed sound art practice and, arguably continue to dominate the scene today.
The project brings together seven women artists from diverse cultures, each exploring sound as a medium or subject matter: Ain Bailey, Sonia Boyce MBE RA, Linda O’Keeffe, Elsa M’bala, Madeleine Mbida, Magda Stawarska-Beavan and Christine Sun Kim.
Curated by Christine Eyene, Sounds Like Her builds on an interest in gendered perspectives and non-object based art practices. It also develops from the acclaimed exhibition Curators’ Series#8: All Of Us Have A Sense of Rhythm at David Roberts Art Foundation (London) in 2015, which presented an original research into the traces of African rhythms in twentieth century cultures and their overlooked legacy in sound art.
This new project is the outcome of an interaction with various sound platforms, notably those supporting the work of women artists. It proposes to engage with some of the debates currently taking place in the field of music and sound art, and challenge the Eurocentric and patriarchal frameworks that have informed the history of sound art and, to some extent, continue to define current practice.
Collectively the selected works address sound in the broadest sense, exploring voice, noise, organic and synthetic sounds, rhythmic patterns, sonic structures and non-sonic materialisations of sound. The result is a varied exhibition of mixed media bringing together audio, immersive installation, painting, print, drawing, video, as well as interactive practice.
A series of new commissions will premiere at New Art Exchange. These include a new development of Sonia Boyce’s Devotional Series with a site-specific wallpaper celebrating black British female singers from the early twentieth century to the present, alongside an installation of placards of announcements and posters of black female acts belonging to Boyce’s own archive.
Created especially for this exhibition, Bia Kud Si (2017) by Yaounde and Berlin-based artist Elsa M’bala explores Bikutsi, a musical genre traditionally associated with the female creative space in Cameroon, through a piece inviting the audience to experiment with an interactive slit drum called nkul.
A new soundscape by Linda O’Keeffe reflects on the impact of renewable technologies on rural and natural sonic environments. This work spans a three-year research across Iceland, Spain, England and China.
Magda Stawarska-Beavan’s new video Wer/Who (2017) follows the meanderings of a male protagonist and blurs the boundaries between gender and languages of narration. Through sound waves, her prints from the Mother Tongue and Transliteration series materialise the structure of sounds and words, from the very first cry of her newborn son to the formation of language and bilingualism.
Non-sonic pieces feature in Madeleine Mbida’s chromatic experiments based on Bikutsi’s 6/8 and 9/8 rhythmic patterns and in Christine Sun Kim’s drawings, whose approach to sound as a deaf artist is challenging many preconceived ideas about the medium. Music notes, scores, text in her drawings, videos, installations and performances are ways for Sun Kim to reclaim the audible, physical and social space.
Amplifying the physicality of sound, Ain Bailey’s The Pitch Sisters (2012), is an immersive sound piece which vibrating intensity is set to permeate from speakers circular layout to the visitors own body. This polyvocal composition challenges the notion of a woman’s ‘preferred pitch’. It also questions restrictive heteronormative roles and who has the power to define gender ideals.
This exhibition is supported by the Arts Council England and Making Histories Visible(University of Central Lancashire). It is scheduled to tour the UK in 2018 and will be accompanied by an exhibition catalogue published next year.
Opening: Friday 13 October 2017, 6pm – 9pm
Exhibition runs to 3 January 2018
New Art Exchange
39-41 Gregory Boulevard
Nottingham, NG7 6BE
T: 0115 924 8630