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‘The Road Behind, The Road Ahead’

New multimedia exhibition in Oxfordshire

It has been 100 years since women over the age of 30 who owned property were granted the right to vote in the Representation of the People Act in 1918, yet we are still far from reaching an agreed and functional system of gender equality. In the wake of the #metoo movement, The Theatre Chipping Norton will showcase the work of female-identifying photographers, composers, and sound artists in a new upcoming project entitled The Road Behind, The Road Ahead. It will be a unique project that explores the history of the Suffrage movement, and what it means in a world where the themes of feminism, the place of women* in society, and equality are being carefully re-examined.

Four female-identifying composers/sound artists, Sarah Llewellyn, Cassandra White, Jasmine Chilton and myself (Sydney Gagliano) have each been commissioned to create a composition based off recordings of roughly 30 interviews featuring women* from Oxfordshire. The interviews discussed a range of topics within the subject of feminism, especially the experiences of women and female-identifying people. The resulting differences in opinions and life experiences demonstrate how contentious the issue of gender equality still is in modern British society. The interviews were conducted by Kitty Gurnos Davies, and Becca Mordan, the Artistic Director of Scary Little Girls, a production company with the intent of performing works which are ‘matrifocal’ or ‘out-and-out feminist.’

I chose the electroacoustic medium for my own composition. I layered snippets of the interviewees speech to give the impression of multiple voices talking over each other in a room, or multiple thoughts passing through the mind simultaneously. The voices interject with differing opinions on various topics, which I separated into 4 categories: voting and politics; the issues and everyday sexism which women* face; the various answers to the question, “Are you a feminist?”; and the long path ahead we still have to traverse before we reach true gender equality. I further highlighted these changes in the conversation by shifting harmonic colour and texture in the underlying bed of sound, formed from a recording of myself playing a viola.

I would like listeners to take away from my composition the importance of having these conversations in the first place, because education and discussion is one of the first steps to achieving gender equality.

Theatre Chipping Norton and the Old Fire Station will be displaying the exhibition from the September 24th to October 13th. You can catch live performances at Theatre Chipping Norton 10-12th October and 11th October at the Old Fire Station, which includes a post-show panel. The photography/sound art exhibition will take place in the Treasury of the Weston Library, Oxford, as part of the wider exhibition ‘Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared,’ in the week commencing 22nd October.

(*People who identify as women)

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