Global sounds in local digs

Send + Receive celebrates 25 years of sound art

Carl Stone is one of the performers at Send + Receive, Winnipegs annual festival of sound art.

Supplied photo

In a modest, landlocked city like Winnipeg, investing in the avant-garde is often scrapped in favour of catering to more dominant tastes.

Folk acts have gradually dwindled from the Winnipeg Folk Festival lineup. Over the years, the TD Winnipeg International Jazz Festival evolved to bring pop, electronic and hip hop to the stage in addition to jazz standards.

But Send + Receive, Winnipeg’s annual festival of sound art, has stayed true to its roots. For 25 years, the festival united sound artists, curators and speakers from around the world in small-scale, Prairie locales.

Established in 1998 as a side project of the Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Send + Receive initially targeted a gap in avenues to present sound art to wider audiences.

This year’s programming will bring 17 performers to venues across Winnipeg. Some reside in Manitoba, while others travelled from as far as Indonesia.

Cam Scott, who has served as the festival’s artistic director for the last five volumes, says Send + Receive’s intention is to act as a hub, connecting the local scene to international networks.

“The really important thing for us is this mandate of internationalism and also regionalism,” he says. “We’re programming in a fairly remote city ... but we bring in people from all around the world, hopefully to create a kind of artistic interchange.”

While programming this year’s lineup, Scott contacted sound artist and curator Aki Onda, who runs the Vancouver-based, non-profit artist centre Western Front, about booking sound artists under the Indonesian record label Yes No Wave.

Onda, who first visited Winnipeg a decade ago as a Send + Receive performer, encountered the label while conducting arts research in Indonesia.

“The Indonesian music and arts scene is probably the most interesting among many Asian countries,” they say. “Some of them have been touring all over the world.”

Three artists from the label – Wok the Rock, Gabber Modus Operandi and Rani Jambak – took the stage at Winnipeg’s Graffiti Gallery during one of Winnipeg’s most electrifying Thursday evenings of the year.

“It has this punk ethos, but so many of the artists blend elements of traditional Indonesian music and electronic music,” Scott says.

In addition to sound art performances, a visual-art exhibition and talk are also scheduled.

On Oct. 14, a talk by writer and rhythm analyst DeForrest Brown Jr. called “Techno-Vernacular Omniverse of Techxodus” dove into the role of Black culture in Detroit’s techno scene at the Esplanade Riel. From Oct. 6 to Nov. 10, Nigerian-born artist Emmanuel ‘OC’ Harry will exhibit a multimedia work titled Not too hot or cold, just right at the Video Pool Media Arts Centre.

What began as an act of necessity for sound artists has now blossomed into an internationally-renowned festival. While Winnipeg is still without a dedicated techno club, the festival’s loyal base of patrons proves an appetite for sound art in the city is alive and well.

Catch Send + Receive’s finale concert featuring Tatsuya Nakatani and a local iteration of his ensemble, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra, at the Esplanade Riel on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. Tickets are pay-whatyou-can with a suggested donation of $20.

Published in Volume 78, Number 06 of The Uniter (October 19, 2023)

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