Photos by Winona Rae (https://winonarae.ca/)
Born in the fall of 2018, “Migration Parade” is an evolving, collaborative body of work and multimedia gallery installation by electroacoustic sound artist, Danielle Savage, and sculptural textile artist, Alexandra Goodall.
“Migration Parade: Holon” is a work that holds a kind of luminous, safe, altered space of inquiry for feeling, thinking, and being in collectives. It explores the individual within the collective and the collective within the individual. It carves out an abstract and sensorial space to explore these phenomena, free of semantic entanglements or polarized political analyses, yet including them as a line of inquiry in the research. It explores collective trauma and healing without being prescriptive. It explores questions surrounding our humanity and intersectional ways of understanding the world without seeking easy answers or playing “find the bad guy”. It allows us to immerse ourselves in a sense of awe about the mind-staggering complexity of collective experience without needing to boil it down to a set perspective (scientific, spiritual, etc.). It is an act of poiesis, a response to our times, that strives to make room for complexity, ambiguity, and interpretation, while owning its subjectivity and unburdening itself from the tendency to rigidly universalize experience. In other words, it aims to offer a highly relational alternative to fundamentalism.
At the same time, when dealing with large collectives, a degree of holism is necessary in order to coordinate movements: the sheer power of 40,000 people all singing the same refrain requires enough common willingness to know and perform a single action. A flock of birds requires complicit-ness in the collective experience to move in tandem. At the micro, small elemental forces coordinate within our bodies to keep our heart beating, fend off pathogens, etc. We supposedly live at the helm of this body, steering the ship so to speak, yet we are made up of a complexity of synchronized experience that defies our ability to understand. Our membership in the larger collectives of our various communities (friends, families, collaborators, political or hobby groups, human, humanoid-animal, earth-bound, sentient, member of the galaxy, etc) is beyond our ability to label the living experience of it. In whole and in parts, the multiplicity of interpretation forms the cohesion.
“Migration Parade: Holon” is a ritual, a place outside of words – a love letter to those who came before us, and those yet to come.
As a project, our work recently expanded out from a 2-person, close-knit collaboration of textile/sound/sensor art to include other artists (a choreographer, movement artists, a photographer, a cinematographer) and the community writ large. The nature/ theme of the work necessitated this change, and our goal now becomes to hold this container in a cohesive way for a larger group, and the communities that entwine in and around this exploration. We wish to give room for the work to reshape itself now that new artists and others have joined us on the journey, complete with their own ability to create ‘containers’ for exploration, to interpret their own iterations of the work, to engage with themselves vis-à-vis the collective and sit with their own emergent complexity.
MIGRATION PARADE (2019)
MIGRATION PARADE: DIASPORA (2020-21)
MIGRATION PARADE: HOLON (2021-22)
In the first iteration of this work (Migration Parade), which was exhibited at Island Mountain Arts Gallery as three sonic/felted sculptures in 2019, we explored living collectives, animal and human-animal: how they move, organize and express. In the second phase (Migration Parade: Diaspora, 2020-2021), we expanded the number of sculptures to 6 and challenged ourselves to focus on research of sonic technologies. We shifted to a transdisciplinary approach, uncovering a wholly new medium – one that is not felt or sound, but an integrated version of both. We looked at human diasporic movements and collective/intergenerational trauma, digging into our own relationship to living ancestry and culture and applying this to our work.
We are now embarking on our third phase, “Migration Parade: Holon”, in which we shift our centre of gravity from our studios out into our community, engaging with it as a living collective. At this stage, we want to invite gallery visitors to communicate and co-create with the sculptures through interactive sound and somatic exploration. With the support of Canada Council for the Arts, the final leg of this work will include two experimental performance art pieces from collaborating artists as part of an exhibition at the Penticton Art Gallery in March, 2022.
In this final phase we are:
– Completing 3 sculptures to bring the installation to 9 felted sculptures.
– Installing the sonic hardware
– Refining the sonic composition
– Working with key collaborating artists to deepen conversation, community engagement and aesthetic inquiry.
Migration Parade. First exhibited at Island Mountain Arts Gallery, 2019
This work is an act of earnest research into the phenomena of hive-mind, relational space, and collective intelligence, from the micro to the macro, starting with ourselves. Through multiple research streams and creation methods, we are using the artistic disciplines of sculptural textile and electroacoustic composition to explore the movements of personal and collective bodies. We have drawn on the field of phenomenology, philosophically and through application, and rely on direct engagement with materials (cloth/fibre and raw sonic experimentation) to guide much of our studio practice. Simultaneously, we continue to follow and nurture the conceptual dimensions of our work, tracking how this evolves and how it provides further context, shaping and insight to our inquiry.
Migration Parade exists in the context of a world where bodies, collectives, and swarms take on new meanings daily. While we are able to immerse ourselves in the humorous serenity of a chorus of frogs, we are concurrently aware of the intersecting challenges facing our collective, such as the mass extinction of the honey bee. Politically, walls – both conceptual and material – hinder and shape migration patterns for all: plants, animals and humans. Collective movements have the capacity for great beauty in their attunement and responsiveness, and great destruction in their unconscious momentum.
PAINTING A PICTURE OF THE FINAL INSTALLATION:
When visitors enter the exhibition space, they are met with nine large-scale white sculptures, hanging from the ceiling, arranged in a circle. The room is dark except for the sculptural pieces, which are subtly lit from above and below. Each piece is made of many hand-made, felted components. The color-palette of the exhibition is taken from the natural white wool used for the felt which imparts a soft, warm lustre indicative of bone, cocoons and animal hair. These sculptural pieces are intentionally ambiguous, leaning towards associations of eggs, cells, spindles, cicadas, seed pods and hives. The hope is that they are evocative, yet don’t instruct the participant how to feel. Rather, they invite engagement and inquiry.
Motion sensors embedded in the felt are triggered by the participants’ movement, setting off a multi-part sound work, which plays through speakers housed in the sculptures. This allows participants to feel how their presence impacts the space. The composed sounds swirl in hive-minded, primal patterns: swells, flocks, assembly and dispersal, on a spectrum from textural to gestural. The tone of the space implies a mass devotional conversation, at once alien and familiar, contemporary and primordial. It expresses the current milieu of human interventions with all their complicated outcomes and processes.
Link to purchase the sounds of Migration Parade