MAKE OR BREAK and NICOLE MONKS: nganggurnmanha: sound dust

Started: 2020

Time/labour: ︎︎︎︎

Collaborators: Nicole Monks (co-lead), Gwen Taualai (sound technologist), Ndidi Alaneme (programming), Yolanda Lowatta & Ivey Wawn (performers), James King (costumes)

sound // listening // time // archive // instruction // moment // performance // instrument // body // space


Image: Nicole Monks and Make or Break, nganggurnmanha : sound dust, 2020, performance image featuring Ivey Wawn, photo by Jacquie Manning.
nganggurnmanha : sound dust challenges audiences to listen deeply to the natural world and find ways to inhabit time differently. Responding to First Nations and Western concepts of time, nganggurnmanha : sound dust is an exploration of how time intertwines with nature, the body and seasonal shifts; and how our time is valued. nganggurnmanha : sound dust activates ‘deep time’ and reawakens body memories carried across generations, like tree roots pushing and stretching through strata, or rocks compressing over millennia.

The artists collected ‘sound dust’ fragments: field recordings contributed by local audiences in response to instructions for a ritual of listening, forming an alternate archive of now. Designed to decouple the experience of time from productivity, this ritual attempts to realign our bodies with close observation of internal and environmental forces.

At the work’s premiere, the collected audio fragments were fed into an computer-driven instrument, and sensor-activated sounds were ‘played’ and remixed with infinite variation as bodies moved in space. Each sensor’s location was illuminated with a cone of light, and the field of play demarcated by a circle of sand within a cavernous dark theatre space. In performance mode, nganggurnmanha : sound dust was activated by a solitary dancer; in participation mode, audiences could enter the sand circle and use their bodies to explore and trigger the surround sounds.

nganggurnmanha : sound dust is a collaboration between Yamaji Wajarri, Dutch and English artist Nicole Monks and Make or Break. nganggurnmanha means ‘listening, hearing, thinking, remembering’ in Wajarri language.

This project was first commissioned by Performance Space as part of 2020 Liveworks Festival of Experimental Art at Carriageworks in Sydney, with support from the Australia Council for the Arts and City of Sydney.

Performance Space world premiere: nganggurnnmanha : sound dust
Instagram: nganggurnmanha : sound dust