Listening to Contemporary Art: Vocality as a Technology of Relation

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University Club, Room 212
@ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Closely-cropped portrait image of River Bullock wearing black

Monday Seminar:

River Encalada Bullock

Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)

Art History, UW-Madison


Extending from my dissertation research this talk attends to works of art that ask us to listen just as much as they ask us to look. This call to listen is crucial to the ethical and political aims of art of women and artists of color (beginning with the pivotal work of Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, and Pauline Oliveros in the 1970s) who take advantage of the space of the gallery and museum to alter sensory dynamics as a way of changing social power relations. Rather than recovering vocality as an object, this study offers a reading of voice and vocality as practice and verb that is materially vibrational and positions the spectator-as-listener.


River Encalada Bullock is a writer, curator, and Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History at UW-Madison. River’s dissertation, “Listening to Contemporary Art: Vocality as a Technology of Relation” attends to artworks that call for a tactics of listening across the disciplinary intersections of Art History and Visual Studies, Sound Studies, and Cultural Studies. River’s recent curatorial projects include “Word is Bond” (The Curatorial Lab, 2014) which showcased the work of contemporary artists who use words and sound to configure narrative, material repetition, and queered tradition. River has guest-curated exhibitions at Milwaukee Art Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Chazen Museum of Art.