fORUM is Mercer Union’s ongoing series of talks, lectures, interviews, screenings, and performances. Admission to our public programming is free, and all are welcome.
Listening to the Vault
On the surface, the museum vault is a storage unit and a place of sanitized preservation. But it embodies an unseen reality. It is where Indigenous and African Ancestors (remains and cultural belongings) live. It is a home, not of light, warmth, and intimacy above ground but a bunker—an underground address where concrete and steel bring order and distance. In this event, we share our journey underground into the vaults of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre to record a soundscape of our visit with the racialized Ancestors. Along the way, we draw on Hungry Listening (2020), a text by xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer and curator Dylan Robinson that understands listening as a sonic encounter occurring between particular logics and bodies. In our case, it is the encounter with the lively space outside the museum and the silence inside it. We listen to the hunger of the entities who exist inside the vault, and look to engage with them differently, to rethink how they are housed as well as the curatorial demands we make of them.