Welcome to How will we be with you? a program of audio works, grounded in multiple worldviews, that aims to complicate and unflatten our perception of difference—to widen our “we” while valuing the uniqueness of our “you.” The program presents an opportunity to listen to, and broaden our understanding of, others with all our senses, intellect, body and emotions. It puts forward two prompts. First, it calls for all human worldviews to prioritize and value our reciprocal relationships with air, water, land and animals. And secondly, when grounded in care for all living things—from the past, present and future—knowing our differences are vital to creating a world in which we all thrive.
6. The Sharing: A Vision: Elder Whabagoon
LISTENING SETTING: If possible, please listen to Elder Whabagoon’s teaching outside in the open air. If being outside is not possible, please stand or sit near a window. Find a spot in which you can see both the ground and the sky. Be aware of the water around you, whether it be a lake, river, snow, or the water within the earth or your body. Breathe deeply. Listen. DESCRIPTION: The Sharing offers us lessons from a pipe ceremony that Elder Whabagoon conducted about a year ago. It focuses on the four directions. Elder Whabagoon helps us connect with the sun, water, air and ground and encourages us to say Miigwetch every day. BIOGRAPHY: Elder Whabagoon is an Ojibway Elder, a member of the Lac Seul First Nation, and sits with the Loon Clan. Born in Sioux Lookout, ON, she is a Keeper of Sacred Pipes, active community member, speaker, land defender and water protector. Whabagoon is a Sixties Scoop Survivor and was raised along the shores of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario. Whabagoon recently accepted the position of First People’s Leadership Advisor to the Dean at the John H. Daniels School of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto. She is co-founder, co-lead, and Elder for Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag, a University of Toronto Access program that works with Indigenous youth to re-connect their spirit with the land and the water through land-based teachings, ceremonies and green infrastructure. Whabagoon has been honoured at High Table, Massey College, at the University of Toronto for her community work with Nikibii Dawadinna Giigwag. She presented her youth program to The Canadian Society of Landscape Architects (CSLA) in British Columbia and has been quoted in the CSLA publication Landscapes and Passages: Reconciliation Edition. Never far from water, Whabagoon leads Sunrise Water Ceremonies and Gatherings by the Fire, to hold space for those who want to listen and share about sacred ceremony, land and water. Whabagoon has led opening ceremonies, with song and drumming, for: OCAD University’s Convocation and the landmark Shanawdithit, Indigenous Opera, World Premiere. In her spare time, Whabagoon enjoys writing, painting, singing, drumming, and spending time with her husband of 23 years, Karl, Knowledge Keeper of the Eastern Door, L’Nu Nation, Lynx Clan, and her black cat, Theo. “I honour my ancestors and the teachings of those who came before me.” – Whabagoon © 2021 Elder Whabagoon. All rights reserved.
5. Braiding: Lessons from Braiding Sweetgrass: Asha Srinivasan and Sara Fraker
LISTENING SETTING: Find a comfortable place in which you can sit with closed eyes while listening. Focus on your breath. Be conscious of breathing air in and releasing it. Think about the animacy of air and how we share it with many living things. As possible, after listening to this piece go outside (if you are not already) into an environment with as little human made noise as possible and listen. DESCRIPTION: Braiding is a work for oboe, electronics and natural sounds. Premiered in Tucson in 2017, the work was inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants. Dr. Kimmerer is professor of environmental and forest biology at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is a plant ecologist, mother, storyteller, environmentalist, and leader in the field of traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). One of the most potent ideas in Braiding Sweetgrass is the “grammar of animacy,” the notion that our perceptions of animate and inanimate beings are shaped and reinforced by language itself. In the Native American Potawatomi language, grammatical differences charge even inanimate beings with an essential animacy. Kimmerer suggests that this “grammar of animacy” can reorient us toward a fundamentally new way of living in the world. Within our musical piece, Braiding: Lessons from Braiding Sweetgrass, we give thanks to the Dalbergia Nation, the trees who give us the hardwoods used to make most oboes (Grenadilla, cocobolo, rosewood, violetwood, and kingwood are all species of the genus Dalbergia). Srinivasan provides the following program note for Braiding: Lessons from Braiding Sweetgrass, which also serves as a formal outline of the piece: Lesson 1: Gratitude... for gifts from the earth; reciprocity... through attention and care for the gift-givers. Lesson 2: Listening, paying attention... to our fellow Earth dwellers, the birds, insects, animals, trees, wind, water... a democracy of species. Lesson 3: Animacy... of the wind, asserted by wind chimes... “to be the wind.” In Braiding: Lessons from Braiding Sweetgrass, the solo oboe voice is interwoven with spoken text, electronics, and other sonic elements. Within this rich soundscape, Srinivasan has artfully mixed an array of recorded and composed tones: the crackle and thud of a falling tree; the rhythm of a crosscut saw; crickets, buzzing insects and birds. The player’s own breath, as blown through the body of the oboe, animates collections of wind chimes to become a true sonification of Kimmerer’s idea: “animating the inanimate.” You can learn more in this lovely conversation between Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer & Dr. Asha Srinivasan: www.sarafraker.com/songs-of-plants Inspired by Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (Milkweed Editions, 2013). Text used with permission. - from the album BOTANICA: music for oboe & English horn (MSR Classics, 2019) - Recorded and mastered by Wiley Ross in Tucson, Arizona - Commissioned by Sara Fraker, with generous support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts © 2017 Sara Fraker and Asha Srinivasan. All rights reserved
4. Siren / holding space: nichola feldman-kiss
LISTENING SETTING: Enter Siren / holding space as whole bodied immersion. Place yourself near a body of water—an ocean, a lake, a river, a bathtub, a glass of water, an ice cube, a tear. Feel water’s call. Follow that call. Get closer. Touch the water. The source of all life. Feel her power and generosity. How she is stubborn. Ponder the water within you. Become enveloped. Ululating produces a primal physical and emotional release. It clears the sinuses, lacrimal glands, the skin. We lift our voices in collective sonic embrace. We welcome you. We are joyful for your arrival. We celebrate your return to source. We intend clear paths and good fortune upon you. DESCRIPTION: Ululations are improv vocal expressions common to feminine cultures of the global south. They are performed individually and collectively as a kind of vocal applause, celebrating arrival and clearing paths forward. The ululation trill is diverse to geography and reflects political ideologies that govern women’s relative freedom to express and emote. Siren harmonics arise from sonic diversity among geo-specific vocalizations in polyphonic play. While this ancient vocal tradition has moved about Africa, the Middle East and diaspora over millennia of nomadic passages, certain sonic innovations to ululation are uniquely possible within polycultural contexts such as Toronto. The powerful Siren voices combine native ululation practice with professional vocal talent. BIOGRAPHY: nichola feldman-kiss is a first-generation Canadian artist of Caribbean (European, Taino, African, Middle Eastern and Jewish) heritage. The artist's process-rich practice is a performative and relational exploration of body and embodiment, identity and autobiography, witness and traumatic memory, statelessness and belonging, empathy and collectivity. feldman-kiss’s finely crafted hybrid media installations critique the colonial paradigm—the violent ingestion of land, resources, peoples and cultures—and ask us to reconsider the hard questions about being conscious social bodies among the tattered boundaries of globalization. Their art and technology innovations and institutional interventions have been hosted by the National Research Council of Canada, the Ottawa Hospital Eye Institute, the Department of National Defence and the United Nations, among others. feldman-kiss has consulted on the development of Canadian new media art research policy since 2001. They hold an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, and currently live and work in Toronto. - Siren is a vocal collaboration unfolding with gratitude to Lodi Awad (Syria), Valerie Buhagiar (Matla / Canada), Blandine Kan (DR Congo), Memory Makuri (Zimbabwe), Ruth Mathiang (South Sudan), Leila Mosemi (Iran), Roula Said (Palestine / Canada), Mabinty Sylla (Guinea), Maryem Toller (Egypt / Canada). - Also, gratitude to Michelle Irving (sound designer). © 2020 nichola feldman-kiss. All rights reserved
3. Marked As Complete: Levyi-Alexander Love
LISTENING SETTING: Before listening to Levyi-Alexander Love’s words make yourself your favourite warm beverage. One that comforts you, a hot chocolate, peppermint tea or a coffee. Smell it. Sip while listening. Let the plants that are in it, warm your insides. DESCRIPTION: Love’s words speak to relationships—me / you—and healing from connections that try to rob us of who we are. A poem that highlights the importance of seeing, understanding and receiving another person’s truth. BIOGRAPHY: Levyi-Alexander Love is a young, talented artist and lover of all things Freedom! Levyi was born in Toronto to Guyanese and Jamaican parents; and has done a lot of inner healing work that he shares through his music, poetry and funny personality. As a black man of trans experience, he holds to the strength of those in the Black and Queer-Trans community who have paved the way for him to continue to advocate in the loud and bold ways he does. Currently, he is trying to figure this thing called life out by doing the things that make him happy! Levyi is a firm believer in love and how everyone should be able to live freely and speak their truths. You can find him on Instagram and Facebook. - Gratitude to Sulva Khurshid for editing. © 2020 Levyi-Alexander Love. All rights reserved
2. Mehcinut, Ultestakon, Sakomawit, Oqiton, Pomok naka Poktoinskwes: Jeremy Dutcher
LISTENING SETTING: While listening to Jeremy Dutcher’s music please gaze at a majestic deep-rooted tree, if possible, near a river. The tree could be outside in the woods or a park, or indoors in a book or on a digital device. Ponder all the tree has given us. Think about the water a tree takes and gives (called transpiration). Consider how trees speak to each other through mycorrhizal networks (that have symbiotic relationships with the tree’s roots) and through the air, using pheromones and other scent signals. Imagine the tree’s history and future and your history and future intertwined. DESCRIPTION: Dutcher’s first album titled, Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, unite Wolastoq songs (that he painstakingly transcribed from 1907 wax cylinders at the Canadian Museum of History) with his hybrid Indigenous and classical compositions. “Many of the songs I’d never heard before, because our musical tradition on the East Coast was suppressed by the Canadian Government’s Indian Act.” Jeremy heard ancestral voices singing forgotten songs and stories that had been taken from the Wolastoqiyik generations ago. As he listened to each recording, he felt his own musical impulses stirring from deep within. Long days at the archives turned into long nights at the piano, feeling out melodies and phrases, deep in dialogue with the voices of his ancestors. “I’m doing this work because there’s only about a hundred Wolastoqey speakers left,” he says. “It’s crucial for us to make sure that we’re using our language and passing it on to the next generation. If you lose the language, you’re not just losing words; you’re losing an entire way of seeing and experiencing the world from a distinctly Indigenous perspective.” BIOGRAPHY: Jeremy Dutcher is a performer, composer, activist, musicologist and a Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet) member of Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick—with all roles deeply infused in his art and way of life. His music also transcends boundaries being unapologetically playful in its incorporation of classical influences, full of reverence for the traditional songs of his home and teeming with the urgency of modern-day struggles of resistance. Jeremy studied music and anthropology at Dalhousie University, Halifax. Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa won the 2018 Polaris Music Prize and the 2019 Juno Award for Indigenous Music Album of the Year. © 2018 Jeremy Dutcher. All rights reserved
1. The Globalized Museum? Decanonization as Method: A Reflection in Three Acts: Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung
LISTENING SETTING: Before listening to Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung’s essay please obtain a small handful of soil from where plants or trees grow and hold it. After listening to the essay, add to your thoughts the fact that soil is home to many insects, bacteria, fungal cells and nematodes. These living things are different from each other but interdependent, an example of multispecies collaboration not visible to the human eye. Soil is a “local” where our world is (most often) in balance, thus it is a community that thrives while not dominated by a canon. DESCRIPTION: Ndking’s essay proposes "a global museum of self-reflexivity, whereby the idea will not be to create new or parallel canons, or place them side by side, or universalize the Western canon, but to decanonize the entire notion of the canon.” (originally published in Mousse Magazine #58, April–May 2017) Essay read by Desire Kaniki. BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung (born in 1977 in Yaoundé, Cameroon), is an independent curator, author and biotechnologist. He is founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary in Berlin and the artistic director of sonsbeek20–24, a quadrennial contemporary art exhibition in Arnhem, the Netherlands. Ndikung was the curator-at-large for Adam Szymczyk's Documenta 14 in Athens, Greece and Kassel, Germany in 2017; a guest curator of the Dak’Art biennale in Dakar, Senegal, in 2018; and the artistic director of the 12th Bamako Encounters photography biennial in Mali last year. Together with the Miracle Workers Collective, he curated the Finland Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019 and was a guest professor in curatorial studies and sound art at the Städelschule in Frankfurt. He is currently a professor in the Spatial Strategies MA program at the Weissensee Academy of Art in Berlin and is also a recipient of the first OCAD University International Curators Residency fellowship in Toronto in 2020. © 2017 Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung. All rights reserved