31 October – 7 November 2018
Conjuring Alterity presents the performative sound rituals of Naomi Blacklock. Employing sound, voice, breath and ritualised objects, the exhibition addresses the cultural and creative significance of the witch archetype as an emancipatory symbol for alterity in contemporary art. The contrast of meditative breathing and primal screaming are engaged as deliberate rituals that build tension and bring forth the ineffable and unobstructed voice. Douglas Kahn’s book, Noise, Water, Meat (1999), observes the scream not only as a form of communication but as a sound that causes an awareness of the presences in one’s own voice (Kahn 1999, 6-7). Therefore, when engaged as a deliberate ritual in creative practice, the scream has the potential to move beyond a signal for pain and anguish and to enact self-determination for the subject. Instead of being characterised as hysterical, repugnant and terrifying, the scream in ritualised performance transforms into a conduit for activism, rebellion, and emancipation. Channelling the witch as muse, as mask, and as voice, Blacklock addresses the significance of disruptive voices and reimagines intersectional identities through the figure of the ‘witch’ as Other.
Kahn, Douglas. 1999. Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Text by Elena Gomez
Image: Naomi Blacklock, Padma, 2018, glass mirrors, brass bells, soil, with sound created through effect pedals, contact microphone, amplifier. Performance documentation from Spring Hill Reservoir, Brisbane, 2018. Photo by Charlie Hillhouse.