As I have been trying to work towards asserting art as a socially productive container and sound as a medium of communication I have been working on a collaborative practice that involves interactive sound sculpture. This piece, Ellis Islander, Is a 6 minute looping cassette that could play indefinitely until the batteries die and its sculptural container.
The primary sonic material comes from a tape found at a yard sale years ago which held reading comprehension tests of elementary schoolers from 2003, an excerpt from an interview I did with artist and activist Mario De Vega used to speak back to the found recording, manipulated flute drones, and construction sounds from NYC in 2017.
The test gives us a look into how public education infrastructures in New York introduce immigration to children, and what they decide is relevant for the children to know. This oral history is mediated by standardized testing, interrogation, and cassette. The drawings on the shell question what is and isn’t allowed to cross certain borders.
The work was produced and auctioned for the Frontier Crossings Benefit Art show in Red Hook NY.
“In “Frontier Crossings,” artists explore their relationship with location and belonging and consider the multivalent effects of travel and displacement. Artists also take a critical approach toward the concept of borders, scrutinizing the way they serve to construct different categories of space and relationships among people. The exhibition features a group of artists consisting of Bard students and faculty, as well as Hudson Valley locals, to raise a dialogue surrounding site and psyche during a political time in which the preservation of certain human rights is intensely tied to land.
The artists in “Frontier Crossings” share a desire to highlight emotion and intellectual inquiry in visual or auditory representations of space. For many, the process entails unearthing psychological attachments to particular locations in time and area, building upon common conceptions of visibility, liminality, and home. Ultimately, artists uncover the ways in which ideas regarding site have shed light on how they can engage with the current sociopolitical moment and our surrounding world.
Special thanks to Bard Experimental Humanities for funding this exhibition as part of a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
All of the proceeds will be donated to United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. They organize and advocate for the dignity and fair treatment of immigrant youth and families, regardless of immigration status.”