• Maria Chavez: Sound Art Equalizer

    Date posted: April 24, 2014 Author: mauri
    Image courtesy of Brianna Sculley.
    Image courtesy of Brianna Sculley.

    I am known in the sound community as an abstract turntablist and sound artist, along with being involved in the contemporary sound art world as a curator.

    My curatorial work began early while I was living in Houston, hosting performances of improvisation and sound. When I moved to New York City in 2005, I immediately began hosting performances in the living room of my loft-like apartment in Greenpoint, called the Bright Red Door. I was lucky to move to the city and already have a nice network of friends to work with, mainly from touring to New York from Houston a few times. From that point on I have been hosting performances in the city.

    As the community began to develop, I noticed a lack of exhibitions that were showing the growing world of sound art. Or, if a sound piece was being exhibited, it would be shown as performance, not as a permanent work. It was frustrating to see my peers being presented unfairly. I decided the best action to take was to focus on presenting sound work in an art gallery context myself, not just as music performance. As time went on, I found out that I was actually good at curatorial work and that it was serving an important role in the development of my own practice with sound. So I choose to call myself a sound artist as curator for the sake of research and development of my own practice.

    I wonder what would happen if more curators began to ask sound artists to create site-specific work. That way various institutional limitations are no longer viewed as a problem, but rather a considered, detailed part of the exhibition. Sound happens where you stand, why not encourage us to work with it and create some kind of correlation to our own interests.

    The fast pace of time in our society makes it important to bring sound art to light. Sound is a malleable medium that can be experienced by everyone, whether they want to hear it or not. It transcends so many barriers and is becoming a tool to advance the arts to affect the mind. Even though a deaf person cannot hear, they can still feel vibration, which is at the core of sound, the vibration of a wave emanating through different outlets. Since sound can affect everyone it’s an extremely important field to develop.

    More sound artists are starting to create non-existent works that deal only with the mind. It’s fascinating and just starting to emerge. Even in the past, the works of Pauline Oliveros and her Deep Listening practices focuses on the mind and meditation as a way of determining when sounds get created. It’s a really beautiful approach.

    Like with all art, a sound artist can work tirelessly trying to convey a certain idea or focus, but the beauty of sound is that everything lies with the point of individual perspective.

    Currently, I am in talks with a few art spaces about consulting and curating. I will be focusing on some upcoming lectures, performances and exhibitions. The big project for the Spring is heading back to Europe to perform and give workshops with Audrey Chen in late April. There will also be a lot of traveling around the US in the coming months.

    By Maria Chavez

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