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L.A. Beat

Galt Museum explore the Politics of sound through art and artifacts

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Sound is all around, but what it means is in the ear of the beholder.


 That is the concept behind the Galt Museum’s new exhibit Politics of Sound, which runs until May 7, 2023.


“Politics of Sound” is a combination of art from artists from Europe and the U.S. to Southern Alberta and artifacts from the Galt Museum.


Marjie Crop Eared Wolf with her contribution to Politics of Sound. Photo by RichardAmery

Galt Museum Curator Tyler Stewart expanded on a previous version of the exhibit focussing on Maskull Lassere’s sculptures blending musical instruments like trumpets and clarinets with bayonets and rifle scopes, to include a couple interactive exhibits by jamilah malika abu-bakare, Adam Basanta, Marjie Crop Eared Wolf, Maskull Lasserre, Benny Nemer and Jessica Thompson, plus  a few pieces from the Galt Museum archives.


 One of the interactive pieces is by local artist Marjie Crop Eared Wolf, who explores the loss of First Nations language because of residential schools. It features videos of Crop Eared Wolf speaking the language and three pictures featuring  Blackfoot words illustrated in red ink.

Marjie Crop Eared Wolf created her part of the exhibit through the experience of learning her traditional language.


“I was inspired by by my mother who is from the Blackfoot (Niitsi’powahsin) Nation, which is our name and my dad who is Secwepemctsín from Kamloops Shuswap area and dictionaries. There are two streams of leaning, oral, which is how First Nations learned their language and  written. There are three Blackfoot dictionaries I used,” she said, noting the red ink is a deliberate choice.


“When I was learning English, that is how my teachers marked wrong words on my tests and I appreciated that,” she said. The video component features Crop Eared Wolf learning traditional language with a close up of her lips forming the words.

 The three graphic pieces are part of a larger project .


Another interactive piece features Adam Basanta exploring sound as seen through homosexuality.


 And  jamilah malika abu-bakare’s interactive exhibit in the alcove explores language and race. A narration about the black experience with language  while looking at a series of close up photos of her skin. Viewers can pick up a piece of her exhibit  and read  quotes on the back and take them home with them if they wish.


There are a variety of pieces from The Galt Museum archives. There is a showcase of hearing aids through the years in the hall as well as a showcase featuring a feedback generator in the entrance hall of the museum. Inside there is a showcase featuring police sirens and radar guns from the ’50s to the ’90s. Another showcase features a radio and short wave  transmitter from the POW camp that was in Lethbridge during the Second World War.


Stewart started working on the exhibit in 2018 before becoming the Galt Museum’s curator. The original version of the exhibit debuted at the Two Rivers Gallery in Prince, George, B.C.


 Politics of Sound runs at the Galt Museum until May 7. Photo by RichardAmery

“ This is an expanded version of the  exhibit. All of the artists involved developed their own works,” Stewart said.


“I’ve been a part of the Lethbridge music community for a long time  and  I’ve always been interested in sound.  So when I was talking to artists, the topic of sound came up in our conversations,” Stewart said, adding Politics of Sound was an opportunity to combine visual art with some of the Galt museum’s artifacts.


“ I hope people will think about their listening practices, When we hear sound, it is processed through different avenues like race, sexuality and gender,” he said, adding sound perception is coloured by the listener‘s background.


“It is also about how sound is used by government, law enforcement  and politicians,” he said.


“We live in a world of sound, but often don’t pay much attention to how it affects us on a daily basis,”  Tyler Stewart in a press release.


“It’s important to pay attention to how sound affects our everyday actions in many different ways we typically take for granted.”

Politics of Sound is at the Galt Museum opened Nov. 26 and runs until May 7, 2023 .


There will be an official launch, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. with a performance by local musician Richard Inman. 

 — By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

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