Sounds Like Her – York Art Gallery

Woman artists from culturally diverse backgrounds explore sound as a subject and a medium in a ground-breaking exhibition at York Art Gallery this summer.

Curated by Christine Eyene, known for her enquiry into feminist art and her research on sound art from an African perspective – Sounds Like Her sets out to broaden existing approaches to sound art and challenge the Eurocentric and patriarchal frameworks that have informed the discourse on sound art practice and continue to dominate the mainstream today.

The project brings together six women artists, each exploring sound as a medium or subject matter: Ain Bailey, Sonia Boyce OBE RA, Linda O Keeffe, Christine Sun Kim, Madeleine Mbida and Magda Stawarska-Beavan.

Collectively the selected works represent sound in the broadest sense, exploring voice, noise, organic and synthetic sounds, rhythmic patterns, sonic structures and visual materialisation of sound. The result is a varied exhibition of mixed media bringing together audio, immersive installation, painting, print, drawing and video.

The exhibition is on loan from New Art Exchange.

Becky Gee, Curator of Fine Art at York Art Gallery, said: “Sounds Like Her brings together an inclusive collection of art which provokes and challenges common misconceptions about the creation and creators of sound art. It represents various perspectives; re-framing how we experience the dynamic of sound through the practice of women with diverse cultural backgrounds.”

Sounds Like Her develops from Eyene’s acclaimed exhibition, All Of Us Have A Sense of Rhythm at David Roberts Art Foundation (London) in 2015, which presented an original research into the unacknowledged contributions of black cultures to the development of twentieth century sound art and their overlooked legacy.

Continuing this exploration, Sounds Like Her features a commission by Sonia Boyce as part of the artist’s Devotional series (1999 to present), with an installation of placards from her 30-year archive on black female singers performing in the UK. Ain Bailey‘s immersive multi-channel sound piece The Pitch Sisters (2012) is a composition challenging the notion of a ‘preferred pitch’ of a woman’s voice, questioning restrictive heteronormative roles and who has the power to define gender ideals. The exhibition also includes painter Madeleine Mbida‘s colourful compositions of African dancers and chromatic reinterpretations of rhythmic patterns.

Magda Stawarska-Beavan‘s video Who/Wer (2017) follows the meanderings of a male protagonist, and blurs the boundaries between gender and languages of narration. Her prints from the Mother Tongue and Transliteration series materialise through sound waves, the structure of sounds and words, from the very first cry of her newborn son to the formation of his language and bilingualism. Christine Sun Kim, who has been Deaf since birth, will present pieces exploring the materiality of sound. Her work unpacks the ‘social currency’ of sound and questions its ownership through engaging with it from her own perspective and challenging the rules dictated by mainstream society. She explores the many ways sound can be experienced – it can be felt, seen and experienced as an idea.

Finally, Linda O Keeffe’s Hybrid Soundscapes (2017) result from a three-year research in Iceland, Spain, England and China. The piece considers the societal and environmental impact of sound pollution in the context of renewable technologies.

An exhibition catalogue with essays by Christine Eyene, Cathy Lane and Salomé Voegelin, published by Beam Editions, will be available in September 2019.

Gender, Sound Art and Sonic Cultures
Ain Bailey, Sonia Boyce OBE RA, Linda O Keeffe, Christine Sun Kim, Madeleine Mbida and Magda Stawarska-Beavan.
13 July – 15 September 2019

Sounds Like Her curator Christine Eyene is joined by artists Ain Bailey and Linda O Keeffe to discuss the inspiration behind this project and the work presented in the exhibition.
Saturday 13 July 11am – 12.30 pm

York Art Gallery
Exhibition Square
York YO1 7EW

Image: Sonia Boyce OBE RA, Devotional series, 1999 to present. Detail of installation at New Art Exchange, Nottingham.




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