Thick sound

Rita McKeough project to be featured at Art in the Open

Rita McKeough singing to a tree

Confederation Centre Art Gallery (CCAG) is once again partnering with Art in the Open (AITO), Charlottetown’s annual outdoor visual arts festival to be held this year on August 26 from 4 pm–midnight.

CCAG is supporting a significant project from artist Rita McKeough, whose work incorporates audio, electronics and mechanical performing objects. She works from a feminist perspective, and her recent work focuses on the environmental impacts of resource extraction while demonstrating a desire to use sound to create a rhythmic voice of agency and empathy to articulate forces of resistance in the natural world.

At AITO, she will debut her new work, Thick sound, an hour-long performance for ten humans and ten trees who are all committed to supporting each other by sharing their knowledge, survival skills, resources and experience in these troubled times. Ten vocalists will interact with an audio score by asking the trees questions about how they are coping with their challenges. There will be a translation module positioned near each tree, which will be triggered for translation based on the specific qualities of the voices heard. The module will listen to the vocalists’ questions and translate them for the trees, and then translate the response from the trees back to the human vocalists.

“I am very interested in using technology to facilitate these speculative conversations between species,” says McKeough. “It allows the viewers and the trees to contribute to the conversation and share how they have been impacted and their coping strategies for survival.” 

CCAG is also supporting McKeough to be an artist-in-residence in 2024 with Annandale Artist Residency.