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Rebecca Gates

Rebecca Gates is an Oregon-based musician, artist, curator, and activist. She has toured and released albums internationally as a solo artist and as leader of The Spinanes. Her programs and work relating to issues of sound and space, listening, and artist’s roles in their communities have been hosted by PS1, Mass MOCA, P.I.C.A., The Museum of Contemporary Craft, New York University, and galleries in the U.S. and Europe. 

"The Shape of Voice(s): Community, Inquiry, and Activation"
“What actually happens to what was once distinct and special when we fold it into the fabric of its circumstances? Into our daily lives? Gain or loss? Are you intrigued by the possibilities—or put off by the complexities?” –Robert Irwin

Voice is primarily considered in terms of corporeal expression, often in an artistic framework, or within the authorial context of narrative. The collective voice of a community of singers and musicians creates a geography not tethered to terrestrial borders. It is a vibrant, iterative, and liminal living geography. Sound defines space.

How can this principle of sound-based geography be used to develop new vocabulary to support artists and to activate citizens, cities, and places musicians call home? A musician’s voice is often restricted to offering song or a performance around which community and economies form, but what is the voice of a collective of musicians?

Artists’ points of expression in an acoustic terrain offer a generative locus for civic and artistic engagement that can be oriented towards culture preservation or change, social justice, and active citizenry. How can the skills of those working within the discipline of music, acknowledging their roles as translators, broadcasters, innovators, and organizers, be identified and activated in a restorative manner to develop a concept of community and place?

Via anecdotes and oral histories, framed in the poetics and politics of public and private space, we will consider how invention, reinvention and a latent cultural capital might be activated simply by framing a community in terms of sound and voice.


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