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Launch of Sound Art + Experimental Music Program
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
Above: Raven Chacon, Report, 2001/15. Score. Music composition, 2001. Video: Raven Chacon, Blackhorse Lowe, D.E. Hyde, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.
Above: Raven Chacon, Report, 2001/15. Score. Music composition, 2001. Video: Raven Chacon, Blackhorse Lowe, D.E. Hyde, 2015. Courtesy of the artist.
Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts
724 S. 12th Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102
United States

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Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts is thrilled to launch its new Sound Art + Experimental Music Program. Embedded within Bemis Center’s renowned international Residency Program, this new opportunity will offer a unique experience for artists working in sound, composition, voice, and music of all genres. National and international artists participating in the program will receive financial, technical, and administrative support, along with dedicated facilities for rehearsing, recording, and performing new works that expand the field of sound art and music.

Sound artist and composer Raven Chacon inaugurates Bemis Center’s Sound Art + Experimental Music Program with a three-month residency from May 22–August 16, 2019. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Chacon is a composer, performer, and installation artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, collaborator, or as a member of the artist-group Postcommodity, Chacon has exhibited or performed in the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, REDCAT, Musée d’art Contemporain de Montréal, San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Chaco Canyon, Ende Tymes Festival, 18th Biennale of Sydney and The Kennedy Center. Each year he teaches 20 students to write string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP). He is the recipient of the United States Artists fellowship in Music, The Creative Capital award in Visual Arts, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation artist fellowship, and the American Academy’s Berlin Prize for Music Composition.

As the inaugural artist in Bemis Center’s Sound Art + Experimental Music Program, Chacon will produce a new sound installation, along with musical scores and recordings. The sound installation will be comprised of field recordings Chacon took at the 2016 Standing Rock gathering and texts exploring the role of sound at Standing Rock and other recent protest demonstrations. In addition, Chacon will complete a book of 15 musical scores based on Zitkála-Šá (1876–1938; a.k.a. Red Bird or Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), a Yankton Dakota who in the early 20th Century became known as a composer, writer, editor, teacher, and political activist. In addition to his residency, Chacon is guest curating, along with fellow sound artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and art historian Maria Buszek, Bemis Center's summer exhibition Inner Ear Vision: Sound as Medium, opening July 11. Chacon's residency, which is generously supported, in part, by a grant from the Harpo Foundation, will conclude with the premiere of a new sound work in August 2019.

Sculptor and past Bemis exhibiting artist Sean Ward and architect Jeff Day of Actual Architecture Company collaborated with musicians, sound engineers, mechanical experts, and Bemis staff to design the program's performance venue and rehearsal and recording studio. Under the guidance of Day, graduate-level architecture students in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's design-build program, FACT, developed conceptual designs and assisted with the project build-out in Bemis Center's 25,000 square foot basement space. The fully-equipped performance space will offer free live shows by local, national and international sound artists and experimental musicians. Access to these performances aims to not only build greater appreciation and new audiences for experimental forms of music but also to liberate the artists on stage to take risks and present truly avant-garde work. The performance venue will open to the public in October 2019. Along with Bemis staff, an international advisory committee comprised of artists, curators, and other leading experts in the field will assist with the curation of performers for the Sound Art + Experimental Music Program venue.

In 2018, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Bemis Center a 500,000 USD grant to establish and support the first three years of the Sound Art + Experimental Music Program. In addition to underwriting residencies for nine international artists working in this groundbreaking field, the grant also funds new audio equipment and the production and presentation of free live performances, open to the community.

May 23, 2019

location

Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, Omaha