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Sounds for Action: Sound Thinking Symposium 2017

Saturday October 28 | Noon−4PM

Canada’s colonial visual culture has been overwhelmingly defined by landscape painting and photography. In recent decades, however, artists have developed alternative forms of sensory apparatus to create a perception of the land that transcends the purely visual. These artworks question preconceptions about identity and colonial history. They conceive of the land as embodied and interlaced with power relations, reflecting upon these dynamics and situating the viewer in an immersive relationship to the world around them. Sound Thinking 2017: Sounds for Action features over a half-dozen artist presentations, along with live performance and group discussion that examines these questions and practices.

The presenters in Sounds for Action examine the relationships between identity and place, memory and history, performance and ritual, language and song, and local and global. Traces left on the land by lived experience, or industrial incursion, are as important as art-historical legacies embodied in the pictures of nationhood typically found throughout art history.

Sounds for Action seeks to foreground the importance of art in addressing both colonial history and our current colonial present. The convening of these talks and performances is inspired, in part, by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s “Calls to Action,” intended to further reconciliation between Canadians and Indigenous peoples. How do we as citizens, as artists, embody this shift? How do we manifest these discussions and further real change beyond the required policy changes and institutional transformations? This symposium includes a diverse array of artistic practices rooted in sound, song, speech and performance that address these and other urgent themes grounded in the land.

Presenters include Marie Côté, Lindsay Dobbin, Farheen HaQ, Liz Howard, Peter Morin, Mavis Pierre-Sam, and Charlene Vickers and Cathy Busby. Convened by Roxanne Charles and Jordan Strom, Sound Thinking 2017: Sounds for Action is presented in conjunction with the Surrey Art Gallery’s Ground Signals group exhibition, which runs until December 10th, 2017. Admission to the symposium is free.

Cathy Busby and Charlene Vickers performing Intertribal Calls at Surrey Art Gallery, Sept 23, 2017. Photo Courtesy of Brian Giebelhaus


Founded in 2008, Surrey Art Gallery's Sound Thinking symposium is an annual event that brings together practitioners and professionals in the field of sound art. The symposium features leading sound artists, scholars, and researchers in sound studies, along with visual artists who use sound as key components of their practice, and musicians who experiment with the limits of music and sound.

About Ground Signals

Ground Signals is an exhibition that features immersive, multisensory art engaged with history and the present state of the land. Artists in the exhibition include Ruth Beer, Roxanne Charles, Marie Côté, Lindsay Dobbin, Richard Fung, Brandon Gabriel and Ostwelve, Farheen HaQ, Peter Morin, Valérie d. Walker and Bobbi L. Kozinuk, and Charlene Vickers and Cathy Busby. The artworks invite consideration of often held presumptions and relationships to the places around us and the history of a nation built on limited notions of landscape and wilderness. The exhibition runs until December 10th 2017.

Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Vancouver Foundation, and Surrey Art Gallery Association. The Gallery would also like to acknowledge the support of SOFIA/c (South of Fraser Inter-Arts Collective) for partnering on Liz Howard’s participation in this year’s symposium.

Media contacts:
Jordan Strom, Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, Surrey Art Gallery.
Roxanne Charles, Guest Curator,

Surrey Art Gallery is located at 13750-88 Avenue, 1 block east of King George Boulevard, in Bear Creek Park. 604-501-5566 |





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