Sounds Like Her – Gallery Oldham

After New Art Exchange and York Art Gallery, SOUNDS LIKE HER: Gender, Sound Art and Sonic Cultures is now showing at Gallery Oldham neat Manchester from Saturday 14 December to 7 March 2020.

The exhibition features Ain Bailey (GB), Sonia Boyce OBE RA (GB), Linda O’Keeffe (IE/GB), Christine Sun Kim (US), Elsa M’bala (CM/DE), Madeleine Mbida (CM) and Magda Stawarska-Beavan (PL/GB).

Sounds Like Her proposes to challenge the patriarchal and Eurocentric frameworks that have informed the history of sound art and continue to dominate the scene today. Using sound as material or subject, the works selected – including new commissions – address sound in the broadest sense through voice, language, noise, textures, music, sonic structures and diverse materialisations of sound. The result is a varied mixed media project bringing together archive material, audio, painting, prints, drawings, video, immersive installations and interactive practice.

Sonia Boyce’s Devotional Series (1999-present) is an ever-growing archive project celebrating the contribution black British female performers to the UK music scene. The installation consists of an immersive, hand-drawn wallpaper with the names of performers collected over the years, overlayed with placards made up of images from Boyce’s archive, plucked from concert announcements, posters and magazines.

Ain Bailey’s immersive multi-channel sound piece The Pitch Sisters (2012), a polyphonic composition exploring a hypothetical ‘preferred’ pitch of ciswomen, questions heteronormative assumptions on women’s voices. Magda Stawarska-Beavan’s video Who/Wer (2017) following the meanderings of a male protagonist, blurs the boundaries between gender and languages of narration. Her prints from the Mother Tongue (2009) and Transliteration (2011) series materialise, through sound waves, the structure of sonorities and words, from the very first cry of her newborn child to the formation of language and bilingualism.

Christine Sun Kim, who has been Deaf since birth, developed her own sonic and visual language employing elements from various information systems – graphic and musical notation, body language and American Sign Language (ASL) – as a means to expand their communication properties and invent a grammar and structure for her artworks. Her drawings and performances unpack the ‘social currency’ of sound and challenge the rules dictated by mainstream society.

Linda O’Keeffe’s interest in the acoustic of ecology translates in a reflection on the impact of renewable technologies on rural and natural sonic environments. Her Hybrid Soundscapes I, II, III, & IV (2017) result from a three-year research across Iceland, Spain, England and China. They invite us to listen within landscapes containing significant sites of renewable technologies from hydroelectric power to wind farms and to question their potential detrimental societal or environmental impacts.

Elsa M’bala‘s work is presented as the documentation of a sound art performance at Yamamoto Keiko Rochaix in London during Art Night 2017. The performance shows various aspects of M’bala’s practice including sonic experiments using material from African and Cameroonian histories, and social media, with a feminist approach. Her sonic experiments with Bikutsi, a traditionally female musical genre, echo the work of painter Madeleine Mbida, whose colourful compositions of dancers and chromatic combinations are based on Bikutsi’s rhythmic patterns.

Sounds Like Her is a touring exhibition produced by New Art Exchange. It is been curated by Christine Eyene and is accompanied with a book featuring essays by Eyene, Cathy Lane and Salomé Voegelin, published by Beam Editions.

SOUNDS LIKE HER: Gender, Sound Art and Sonic Cultures
14 December 2019 – 7 March 2020

Gallery Oldham
35 Greaves St
Oldham OL1 1AL

Image: Sounds Like Her, York Art Gallery. Photo:

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