Exhibit Curation for Sounds

  • Dayang Magdalena Nirvana T. Yraola


This article is about a practice-based research on curating exhibits of sounds and exhibits for and about listening in the Philippines. The term “sounds” is used in this essay to refer to sound art works and music. As one of the few active curators who have been exhibiting sound/music in Manila in the past decade, I reflected on exhibits I have curated over the years as well as exhibits curated or staged by my contemporaries. This essay is a contemplation on and examination of lessons from such exhibits that may be useful in developing curatorial practice for sound exhibition in the Philippines. Special attention is given to exhibiting sounds as a counterpoint to the more conventional acts of performing sounds or exhibiting objects to look at. The act of exhibiting sounds, though it may appear random, actually expands the curatorial practice. This paper proposes that in exhibiting sounds, the task and responsibility of curators are not limited to selecting or putting up objects but cover a trifecta of affective actors. Sounds, spaces, and bodies perform together in sound exhibits, where each component contributes to a wholeness that the exhibit tries to achieve. Specifically, this paper focuses on exhibited sounds as omniparticipant, observable boundaries of spaces, and frames audiences of such as listening bodies. Understanding the nature of sound as an exhibitable object (i.e., a physical object, idea, or sensation) vis-à-vis the act of exhibiting and of exhibition, as well as the place of sound among the audience, forms a complex armature that shapes the particular challenges and opportunities of exhibiting non-visual (art) objects.