Event - Performance for sounders

Performance for sounders

02.03.24, 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm

Installation view of to reverberate tenderly in Gallery 5. The gallery has lavender and navy walls. In the center of the frame is one of sonia's sounder sculptures, a neon green semi-circle with a cone-shaped top and a string that goes from the base to the middle of the instrument's spine. The sounder is on a team platform, as are the two other sounder sculptures visible in the background. On the left side of the image is a large tufted piece with colorful circles and lines hanging down from the gallery ceiling. The left wall features two neon sculptures, one is a red circle and the other is a green curved line. The right wall features a second tufted piece.

Installation view, sonia louise davis, "to reverberate tenderly". Photo by Hai Zhang.

This event is now sold out. We are excited by the overwhelming interest and enthusiasm surrounding this event! Please note that a second iteration of this performance will take place on April 6. Tickets are still available here.


In conjunction with her solo exhibition, to reverberate tenderly, artist sonia louise davis invites musicians Rena Anakwe, Sarah Galdes, and Sugar Vendil to improvise with her three steel instruments, or sounders, for the first of two performances in the gallery space. Performers will use percussion, string, voice, and other experimental techniques to respond to the exhibition’s multi-sensory environment and davis’ large-scale mural, score for Queens Museum (2023). 


davis’ custom sounders reference the organic swoops and geometric linework of the artist’s graphic notation, which is a recurring motif in her work across media. There are strings to be plucked or bowed; a conical bell shape that amplifies the voice; and several resonators, such as hollow tubing, rattles, and cymbal-like discs. While taking influence from free jazz, Guatemalan artist Joaquín Orellana’s custom marimbas, and West African instruments across history, davis’ vivid monochromatic instruments encourage performers to make an original, unexpected sound. For the artist, her sounders level the playing field towards a new kind of improvisation: if you create a never-before-seen instrument, then no one is an expert. 


This performance will be accompanied by a guided free play, where visitors are invited to interact with the instruments in the gallery.


Upcoming Performance Date:

April 6, 2-3:30pm: Please note this performance will be followed by a talkback with the artist and collaborators.


About the Performers:


Rena Anakwe is an interdisciplinary artist, performer, poet and healer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology. She is based in Brooklyn, New York by way of Nigeria and Canada. Her durational, two-part, public art project “Lifting the Ground Up [iter.02] is currently at Lincoln Center from Fall 2023-Spring 2024. Under the moniker ‘A Space for Sound,’ Anakwe released her album “Sometimes underwater (feels like home)” through RVNG Intl’s Commend THERE Label in Fall 2021. 


Sarah Galdes is a drummer, composer, and music producer. Born in Australia to Indian / Maltese parents, Sarah is currently based in NYC and engages with a wide variety of artists. She has delved into traditional South Korean Samul Nori drumming and North Indian music traditions to further enrich her rhythmic syntax. Sarah performs as a soloist using Sensory Percussion sensors and also tours and performs extensively internationally with artists such as Anna Wise, TEEN, Akwaeke Emezi, River L Ramirez, Overcoats, Efterklang, L’Rain, Lauren Mayberry (CHVRCHES) and many many more. Sarah co-runs a music studio in Greenwich Village called “Synthia.”


Sugar Vendil is a composer, pianist and interdisciplinary artist based in Lenapehoking, known as Brooklyn, NY. Vendil’s work germinates from a kinesthetic and improvisatory approach. A late bloomer, she began making her own work after over a decade of primarily performing as a pianist with her ensemble, The Nouveau Classical Project (2008-2021), and started dancing in 2020. She currently dances in Emily Johnson/Catalyst’s “Being Future Being.” Her piece “Antonym: the opposite of nostalgia,” a memoir of a Filipinx American childhood, will premiere at Living Arts in Tulsa, OK (2024). In 2023 she released an album, “May We Know Our Own Strength,” out on Gold Bolus Recordings.


About the Artist:

sonia louise davis (b. New York, NY, 1988) earned her BA with honors in African American Studies from Wesleyan University and is an alumna of the Whitney Independent Study Program. She is a 2023-2024 Artist in Residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem. Her latest solo exhibition, resonant frequencies, blossoming tones, at Hesse Flatow (NY) was listed a “must see” by Artforum in 2022. She has presented her work at the Whitney Museum (NY), ACRE (Chicago), Sadie Halie Projects (Minneapolis), Ortega y Gasset (Brooklyn),  and Artists Space (NY), among other venues. Residencies and fellowships include the Laundromat Project’s Create Change Fellowship, Civitella Ranieri, New York Community Trust Van Lier Fellowship at the International Studio & Curatorial Program, Culture Push Fellowship for Utopian Practice, and Stoneleaf Retreat. Her newest book, slow and soft and righteous, improvising at the end of the world (and how we make a new one) was published in 2021 by Co—Conspirator Press, which operates out of the Feminist Center for Creative Work in Los Angeles. Sonia lives and works in Harlem.