This essay addresses the silences and soundings of Rebecca Belmore's (Anishinaabe) and Julie Nagam's (Anishinaabe/Métis/German/Syrian) sound art, which reflects their environmentalism and profound commitment to Indigenous ways of knowing, making, and listening. Working at the intersection of sound art and politics, the two perform sonic interventions into settler colonial spaces—the National Parks system and the gallery, respectively. Belmore's Wave Sound (2017) and Nagam's Our future is in the land: If we listen to it (2017) illustrate how their sound art gravitates toward the ecological and considers what healthy and unhealthy relationships between humans and the nonhuman world—plants, animals, resources—sound like. Belmore and Nagam introduce marginalized perspectives and voices to address the problematic authority of whiteness that conspicuously dominates the discourse on music, sound, and environment—a relatively homogenous and exclusionary artistic, technological, and scientific discussion.
Listening to Indigenous Knowledge of the Land in Two Contemporary Sound Art Installations
Kate Galloway is a faculty member at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her research and teaching address sonic responses to environmentalism, radio, Indigenous musical modernities and traditional ecological knowledge, sound studies, science and technology studies, new media, and digital humanities. Her monograph Remix, Reuse, Recycle: Music, Media Technologies, and Remediating the Environment (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) examines how and why contemporary artists remix and recycle sounds, music, and texts encoded with environmental knowledge. Galloway's work has been published in Ethnomusicology, MUSICultures, Tourist Studies, Sound Studies, American Music, The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Music (Oxford, 2020), and Music in the Role-Playing Game: Heroes & Harmonies (Routledge, 2019).
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Kate Galloway; Listening to Indigenous Knowledge of the Land in Two Contemporary Sound Art Installations. Feminist Media Histories 1 April 2020; 6 (2): 176–206. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/fmh.2020.6.2.176
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