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Emergency Noises

Sound Art and Gender

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Irene Noy

Art history traditionally concentrates on the visual. Sound has either been ignored or has been appreciated in a highly selective manner within a different discipline: music. This book is about recent attempts by artists trained in (West) Germany to provoke listening experiences to awaken the senses. Their work is revolutionary in artistic terms and in what it reveals about human relations, especially concerning issues of gender.

The main focus of the book is to explore a gendered reading of the unity between the visual and the aural, a strand most prominently expressed within sound art in the period from the beginning of the 1960s to the 1980s. The book juxtaposes sources that have not been considered in conjunction with each other before and questions sound art’s premise: is it a separate field or a novel way of understanding art? The study also opens up sound art to gender considerations, asking if the genre possesses the capacity to disrupt conventional, gendered role models and facilitate alternative possibilities of self-definition and agency across genders. Emergency Noises brings to light the work of underrepresented female artists and explores new intersections of sound, art and gender.

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Chapter 3: From the Bauhaus to Für Augen und Ohren: Gender and the Institutional Incorporation of the Senses of Sight and Hearing

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CHAPTER 3

From the Bauhaus to Für Augen und Ohren: Gender and the Institutional Incorporation of the Senses of Sight and Hearing

‘For Eyes and Ears’: The creation of canons

While there is no precisely agreed date to mark when the field of Sound Art emerged in the second half of the twentieth century, the 1980 exhibition Für Augen und Ohren: Von der Spieluhr zum akustischen Environment. Objekte Installationen Performances seems to have become a steady reference point, particularly in the German context.1 Organised in Berlin, Für Augen und Ohren was a large-scale international exhibition with seventy-four participating artists and musicians (Figure 1).

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