“LOUD silence: Turning Up the Volume on Deaf Voice,” The Senses + Society, Vol. 10, Issue 3, Spring 2016
From 2014 to 2015, I curated an exhibition entitled LOUD silence, which was held in two different venues in California: Grand Central Arts Center at California State University Fullerton, followed by gallery@Calit2 at the University of California, San Diego. The exhibition offered the opportunity for viewers to consider definitions of sound, voice, and notions of silence at the intersection of both deaf and hearing experiences. The exhibition displayed prints, drawings, sculptures, videos, and several film installations, and featured work by four artists who have different relationships to deafness and hearing, including Shary Boyle, Christine Sun Kim, Darrin Martin and Alison O’Daniel. These four artists explored how the binary of loudness and silence might be transformed in politicized ways through their own specificities, similarities and differences in relationship to communication and language. The stereotypical view of the deaf experience is that they live a life of total silence, where they retain little to no concept of sound. But on the contrary, deaf studies scholars Carol Padden and Tom Humphries state that deaf people actually know a lot about sound, and sound informs and inhabits their world just as much as the next person (Padden and Humphries 1998:91).Through these artworks, the artists aimed to loudly explode the myth of a silent deaf world, and they troubled just how “inaudible” sound really is through their own visceral experiences of it. Ultimately, I argue that the work in LOUD silence offers an avenue for eradicating deaf oppression.