THE THREE WATERS PROJECT
The Three Waters Project is an hour-long interdisciplinary installation for voice, piano, wearable sculpture and projected image. Fides Krucker and Dennison Smith have brought together nine prominent women musicians and artists, all of whom are passionate about Canada’s waters. Originating from the three coasts, and from Inuit, First Nations and Canadian-European heritage, the interdisciplinary collective employs the deep-sea research of oceanographer Edith Widder (bioluminescence expert, championing greater understanding of ocean life to foster better ocean stewardship and global health) to produce a visceral and immersive performance-installation, giving voice to both the wonder and degradation of our oceans.
Beginning from the experiential female voice and the Inuit story of Sedna, whose abuse at the hands of her parents is transformed by her creative power into the varied creatures of the sea, Three Waters explores the inherently liminal and symbiotic nature of identity in respect to the creative properties of water and the phosphorescent language of deep ocean creatures. It fuses oceanography, art, and indigenous or local story and song, in the service of establishing a new relationship with our oceans – which are reductively conceived of as borderlines, chasms and dumpsters, or commercial resources and highways for colonization. Three Waters explores identity beyond the paradigm of fixed boundaries that result in such diverse outcomes as devaluing the female and indigenous, reduction of place to site, the inability to confront climate change, and the destruction of our oceans and severe underfunding of deep sea science.
While our experience of our bodies on land and air tends towards isolation, in water, it is conglomerate. On land we respond to surfaces, in the ocean to the depths, an abyss which refers instinctively to the human subconscious. Three Waters invites the watcher to go further into himself (emotionally and viscerally) as he journeys through the sounds and images of water, choreography and non-linear narrative. Diverse vocal cultures interact – Inuit throat singing, Kwaqiutl and Sto:lo song, East Coast Maritime folksong, and European operatic and extended traditions – creating a fused plurality that reflects the coalescing nature of water. While exploring the absence of boundaries, the introduction of the piano offers a bounded element – or land mass – as a counterpoint to the unbounded feminine voice – or oceanic. Like the ocean, the female voice – under the direction of vanguard opera singer and vocalographer Fides Krucker – is particularly unbound, physiologically and expressively.
Voice, film and light cohere to produce the contrapuntal qualities of the ocean, which may be superficially roaring but deeply silent, or simultaneously monumental and unfixed. Voice is ephemeral, sharing similar properties to light in how it passes through the element of air, but light in the depths of the ocean is even nearer the human voice, for it relies on phosphorescence produced by living organisms. Like deep-sea bio-luminosity, Three Waters will embed light in the wearable sculpture of Cree artist, Meryl McMaster, while Quebecois film-artist, Sylvie Bélanger, projects onto sculptural walls, erected beyond the inner ring of performers and the outer ring of the audience, creating an experience of full submersion in the ocean and replicating the experience of sight in deep ocean, epitomized by the gradual reduction of the visible spectrum to the colour blue. Similarly, Dennison Smith’s libretto submerges: descending from cognitive and isolative words-as-information to shared words-as-story tosub-literate words-as-sound.
Co-Producer / Co-Director
Fides Krucker is one of Canada’s most innovative interpreters of vocal music. As a singer, composer and vocalographer, her work has been heralded internationally for its ‘feminist jolt’, ‘avant guard’ sensibility, and ‘heartbreaking descant.’ Thirty years of experience as a contemporary opera singer, interest in a wide and catholic palate of non-verbal human sound textures, and a strong belief in and pedagogical practice of sustainable vocal practices underpin Krucker’s work and produce ‘extraordinary vocalizations … from the almost inaudible to growls, raucous whoops, yells, quasi-coloratura bird calls and visceral rumblings’ to the ‘stunning’ and sublime. Krucker is committed to the interdisciplinary as a feminist practice. Collaborating with Peggy Baker Dance Project – land/body/breath, locus plot, and phase space (which received a Dora for composition) – Krucker gave sound and voice to dancers, unlocking choreography through a radical vocal score. Krucker’s engagement with the natural world, the lived body and the female experience have resulted in such singular works as a cappella, site-specific A mourning Chorus –which celebrated bird species now extinct, and where the female body inhabited a bird’s mode of sound-making – and 3Singers(for Erica Mott Productions, premiering in Krakow and Chicago) exploring the unionization of female workers in the US garment industry in the early 1900s. Her company, Good Hair Day Productions, premiered the electroacoustic sexual-catastrophe opera Julie Sits Waiting (Walmsley/Dufort), receiving five Dora Nominations. Her all-female collective, URGE (1991 – 2004, and published by Playwrights Canada Press), broke ground for subsequent generations of interdisciplinary artists. With Kazumi Tsuruoka she created the love and disability show CPSalon, subsequently turned into an NFB film (dir. L.Jackman). Simultaneous to finishing writing a book on voice, Krucker joins writer/curator Dennison Smith to co-create the Three Waters Project. More at www.fideskrucker.com
Co-Producer / Co-Director
Dennison Smith is an award winning author, performer, and curator. Her published works include novels, Scavenger and The Eye of the Day (Harpers Collins), and poetry collections, Anon Necessity and Fermata (Quattro). Smith’s writings interlink literary mediums to perform the alchemical, creating the embodied and visceral and bringing nature to the status of protagonist. Critics have described her writing as ‘equally beautiful and harsh’ (Globe & Mail) with ‘the talent to explore all corners of human and natural existence from the perspective of the heart’ (Winnipeg Free Press). She is presently completely her next novel, The Westward Hours, following three generations of women through the environmental and geopolitical devastation of Climate Change. As founder and curator of The Baldwin Gallery (London, England), Smith hosts interdisciplinary salons and champions First Nations art in London’s contemporary art world. Formally co-owner of U.S. theatre company, Miracle Theatre, Smith performed work from the classics to experimental literature-theatre fusions. She holds a BS in Performance Studies with highest honours from Northwestern University (Illinois), an MA with distinction in Fiction and a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing from University of East Anglia (UK). Her ability to bridge science and art resulted in her inclusion at Dramatising Climate Change: The Story So Far, the first UK conference to create dialogue between prominent climate scientists and creative writers. More at www.dennisonsmith.ca
Eve Egoyan is as an internationally recognized multi-award-winning interpreter of contemporary piano concert music. Her critically acclaimed discs have been selected as “Top Classical Disc of the Year” (The Globe and Mail, 2011), one of “Ten Top” classical discs, (The New Yorker magazine, 2009) and one of the top ten discs of any genre ( The Globe and Mail,1999). Collaborative, interdisciplinary work includes membership in URGE with Fides Krucker, and a collaboration for the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Architectural Biennale. Honours include Best Media Artwork Award (Image Festival, Toronto), FACTOR, a University of Victoria Distinguished Alumna Award, a K.M. Hunter Award, a Chalmers Award and a Chalmers Arts Fellowship. Egoyan is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (FRSC) and one of fifty Canadian performers and conductors given the designation of “CMC Ambassador” by the Canadian Music Centre. She was recently selected as one of the 25 greatest Canadian classical pianists by the CBC. More at www.eveegoyan.com
Marion Newman is a Kwagiulth and Stó:lo First Nations mezzo-soprano, who has sung leading roles internationally: Cork Opera, (Ireland), Opera Lyra, (Ottawa), Pacific Opera (Victoria), Vancouver Opera and Opera Hamilton. On the concert stage, Marion has performed with the Victoria Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, National Ballet of Canada, Portland Baroque Orchestra, CapriCCio Vocal Ensemble, The Elmer Iseler Singers, San Francisco Conservatory Orchestra, Kingston Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Elora Festival Singers, Toronto Philharmonia and the St Lawrence Choir. She is a five time soloist on CBC’s National Aboriginal Achievement Awards, and opened the 2002 Royal Golden Jubilee Gala at Roy Thomson Hall, performing the National Anthem before Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. More at www.marionnewman.com/bio.html
Tena Palmer is at the forefront of jazz vocal improvisation in North America. For five years she fronted the Celtic/free bop quartet, Chelsea Bridge. Her voice and writing are featured on a dozen critically acclaimed CDs, seven making critics’ annual top ten list. Called “the most creative vocalist in Canadian free improvisation” (Toronto Life Magazine), Tena tours and records in avant pop, roots, experimental, Brazilian, jazz, minimalism, electronica, Celtic, and spoken word. Performance highlights include New York ’s Blue Note Club, Montreal’s Salle Wilfred Pelletier, Molde Jazz Fest, Norway and Festival International de Musique Actuelle. More at www.tenapalmer.net
Sylvie Bélanger is a is an interdisciplinary artist using sound, video, photography and installation. She has taught at the University of Windsor, Concordia, York and the San Francisco Art Institute and is Associate Professor and Head of Photography at the University at Buffalo. Her media installations have been exhibited across Canada, USA, France, Germany, Spain, England, the Netherlands, Japan, Thailand, Philippines and China and collected internationally by museums, galleries and universities. More at www.sylviebelanger.com
Wearable Sculpture and Photography
Meryl McMaster is a sculptural photographer of Cree descent. Awards and scholarships include the Canon Canada Prize, the Eiteljorg Contemporary Art Fellowship, the Doris McCarthy Scholarship, the OCAD U Medal, and the Charles Pachter Prize for Emerging Artists. McMaster’s work has been included at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American Indian, the Art Gallery of Ontario, Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, the Eiteljorg Museum, the Ottawa Art Gallery, the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, the Mendel Art Gallery and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. More at www.merylmcmaster.com
An Inuit throat singer will shortly be joining The Three Waters Project. Details will soon be announced.