Past Event

Prof. Kate Galloway: "Listening to Indigenous Knowledge of the Land in Three Sound Art Installations" (Friday 4-12, 4-30PM)

April 12, 2019
4:30 PM - 6:00 PM
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The Center for Ethnomusicology at Columbia University Presents a Colloquium Talk by:


"Listening to Indigenous Knowledge of the Land in Three Sound Art Installations."

Friday, April 12, 2019
701C Dodge Hall (Center for Ethnomusicology)
Columbia University Morningside Campus (Broadway at 116th St.)

Free and Open to the General Public, All Are Welcome!
For further information and assistance with accommodation, please write to: [email protected]

Abstract:  In this paper I explore the soundscapes and resonances of Rebecca Belmore’s (Anishnaabe), Julie Nagam’s (Anishinaabe/Métis/German/Syrian), and Elizabeth LaPensée’s (Anishinaabe/Métis/Irish) soundwork and how their sound art reflects their concern for the environment and a profound commitment to Indigenous ways of knowing, making, and listening. Working at the intersecting borders of art and politics, they perform sonic interventions into settler colonial spaces, such as the National Parks system, the art gallery, and the game industry. Belmore’s work across different artistic and performance media is a crucial site of Indigenous knowledge formation. In sound installations such as Wave Sound (2017), Belmore explores pressing issues that concern both Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, including, water and land rights, violence against Indigenous people by the state and police, and the embodied and viscerally sensed impact of global climate change. Similarly, in Our future is in the land: If we listen to it (2017), Nagam uses a variety of media, including light, digital projection, and innovative sound technology to create an immersive 360-degree installation that combines environmental field recordings and the voices of Indigenous storytellers with line drawings and projections of an arboreal landscape to highlight our destructive and complex relationship with the environment. And in LaPensée’s social impact game Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing mobile media game app, the combination of activist play, history, bodies, hardware, music, and code, brings awareness to threats to the water systems and Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK).

I listen acutely and with care to these three sound art installations and the multisensory ways music and sound are used to resound Indigenous futures, traditions, and ways of knowing on their own terms. Each of these sound art installations gravitates towards the ecological and considers what healthy and unhealthy relationships between humans and the nonhuman world–plants, animals, natural resources–sound like. Belmore, Nagam, and LaPensée introduce marginalized perspectives and voices to address the problematic settler colonial authority and whiteness that conspicuously dominates the discourse on music, sound, and environment, a relatively homogenous and exclusionary artistic, technological, and scientific discussion.

Speaker Biography: Kate Galloway, Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Wesleyan University,  specializes in North American music that responds to and problematizes environmental issues and relationships, musical expressions of Indigenous modernities and Traditional Ecological Knowledge, sound studies, new media and audiovisual culture, and the digital humanities. Her current book project Remix, Reuse, Recycle: Music, Media Technologies, and Remediating the Environment is under contract with Oxford University Press and examines how and why contemporary artists remix and recycle sounds, musics, and texts encoded with environmental knowledge. She holds the PhD in Music from the University of Toronto.