The Assonant Armory was an exhibition of sculptural instruments for the human voice retooled from musical horns and megaphones in solidarity with social justice movements.
These sculptural instruments, synthesizing casts of the human figure with acoustic properties, demonstrate the symbolic and physical ways vocal sounds travel through the human body and affect the politics of the surrounding world. Hand gestures implemented for “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” call out for social justice by literally covering up the mouth of the speaker, while simultaneously amplifying the voice. Whereas “Donald Trump(et)” effectively dampens hate speech by plugging a megaphone with a life cast of an anus, rendering it mute.
In the exhibition, twenty plastic casts of “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” were presented in an armory-like setting, assembled and ready for marches into the streets or heated debates. Aluminum casts of “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” penetrated the parameters of the room where the bronze “Donald Trump(et)” listened in silence. This architectural intervention boosted the voices of the people in the surrounding hallways, displacing the political silos most citizens occupy in complicity.
The Assonant Armory was a turning point for Mann who, for the past six years, has focused on the act of listening as it relates to political and social change. She has explored listening through military spying devices, antique hearing aids, experimental choirs, and community engaged dialogues. With this new series of sculptural instruments for the human voice, she shifts her attention from active listener to conscientious speaker.
A performance with the sculptural instruments at the opening night of the exhibition played like turning a tuning dial, examining the sound bites and resistance songs floating through the airwaves of the 2016 electoral season.
Performance scores were inspired and written for individuals who influence the art and activist landscape of Los Angeles. The performance took place at 8PM on September 24th and included: Marshall Astor, John Bertal, Toro Castaño, Justin Dixon, Diana-Sofia Estrada, Corey Fogel, Amanda Yates Garcia, Robby Herbst, Atticus Korman, Michele Jaquis, Allison Johnson, Kimberly Kim, laub, Derrick Maddox, Jennifer Moon, Thinh Nguyen, Guan Rong, Yoshie Sakai, and Mariangeles Soto-Diaz.