Above images filmed by Marcus Salvagno
This is an invitation to participate in a series of voice workshops that I will be facilitating for the Liquid Architecture program FM[X] at West Space. FM[X] is a program of artistic responses to the provocation ‘What would a Feminist Methodology sound like?’
My response to this provocation has been inspired from recent debates around vocal trends of young North American and British Women, in particular ‘vocal fry’ – a tendency to draw out the end of sentences with a low creaky voice. In a recent Guardian Article, Naomi Wolf appealed to young women to drop vocal fry and reclaim their strong female voice. She suggested women that adopted upspeak (raising ones voice at the end of a sentence), ‘like’ and vocal fry, risked not being listened to, or taken seriously. In response, sports historian, Erin Riley argues that the term vocal fry and its association with young women is another ‘excuse to dismiss, ignore and marginalise women’s voices, both literally and figuratively’. Many note that the speech patterns are not only adopted by young women and therefore the vilification of women that adopt these trends is a continuation of the problematic policing of women’s voices throughout history.
These discussions have raised several questions for me. What does it mean for a woman to own her power and claim her own voice? Is it possible to disassociate from what dominant society considers a pleasing and authoritative voice? Does the problem lie with the listeners?
I would like to physically and philosophically explore these questions in four x two hour workshops with a diverse group of 5-6 women. The structure of the workshops will involve a combination of group-centred and individual consciousness raising approaches:
WORKSHOP 1 – BODY CONSCIOUSNESS
Our minds and bodies work together. In this session I will take the group through body consciousness exercises to explore inner energies and what our bodies desire to communicate.
WORKSHOP 2 – VOICE
A voice coach will lead this session with vocal exercises to help us discover our vocal possibilities.
WORKSHOP 3 – LISTENING
Listening can sometimes be more difficult than talking. This workshop will introduce the concept of deep listening as hearing in a fully present way without judgment or trying to control the situation.
WORKSHOP 4 – REFLECTIONS
In the final workshop we will reflect as a group on the questions, experiences and feelings raised during the previous sessions. We will revisit some of the activities and collectively decide how to represent the journey to an outside audience.
The FM[X] program invites each artist to respond to the question within a 20 minute slot on Friday 18th September at West Space. This is a process-based project in which the outcome is currently unknown. I am inviting you on this journey because I believe you would be interested in these questions and have an openness to listening, feeling and understanding.
I am not a trained facilitator. I see myself as going on this journey alongside you in the hope that we will each discover new possibilities of our singular and collective voices and find a way to share this with others.