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O, Miami: Art and Poetry Collide in Speech Actions

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Art and poetry collide in Speech Actions, a week-long sound project hosted at Meta-Gallery. The event will combine transformative elements and sensory exploration to create a unique artistic experience.

Speech Actions is the brainchild of Guillermo León Gómez, a multidisciplinary artist who is currently artist-in-residence at Cannonball. The event itself will have two distinct portions; the first, a "re-performance" by Gómez of Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In A Room and the second featuring many of Miami's rising poets, including Yosie Sanchez, Chloe Firetto-Toomey, Scarlett Diaz, Ashley M. Jones, Xatherin Gonzalez, Natalie De Paz, Farah Yamini, Melissa Moral, Relyn Myrthil and Jennifer McCauley. Later, the space will also turn into a sound laboratory of sorts, where attendees can experiment with speech and the sounds of voices to create new pieces of performance art.

Gómez says he was asked to create an installation that would be a part of a much greater art story. "I was invited by Andrew Horton, founder and director of Meta-Gallery, a pop-up gallery structure that exists in the context of another exhibition," Gomez told New Times. "This iteration of Meta would exist inside of the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, as a part of a larger group show." That show is "Alternative Contemporaneity: Temporary Autonomous Zones."

"For this solo project, I had the liberty to do whatever I wanted," says Gómez. "What I love about Meta is that it opens the space as a platform for other artists, which I feel is the most alluring part. I decided to use this opportunity to experiment with sound, specifically speech."

Gómez turned to I Am Sitting In A Room as a method to explore the use of sound in a museum space. "As an introduction to my project, I performed the great Alvin Lucier's I am sitting in a room, a sound piece about resonance, speech, and the replication of sound," he says. "I decided to re-appropriate the work by performing it in the context of a museum. Sound within the museum is so inconsistent. The layering of noises over the course of 2 hours was extraordinary. Thursday I will play the sound I produced on loop as a sound installation in the space."

Linguistics also influence Gómez: "I play around with multiple topics and concepts in my work, but at the end of the day the idea of performativity is always present," he say. "For this project, I was really inspired by the theory of speech acts, a concept by philosopher and linguist J.L. Austin, which is defined as 'an utterance that has performative function in language and communication.' I wanted the presence of voice and the body, or at least some reference to it."

The addition of poets ties the event back to O, Miami, the city's month-long celebration of poetry. "April is National Poetry Month, so I felt like it was only appropriate." Gómez says.

Gómez hopes that viewers will experience art in a brand new way: "I hope visitors realize "art." whatever...it may be, is not always an object hanging in a museum. The most important word to take away from this project is resonance. I am trying to create a dialogue between acoustic resonance and literary resonance. I want sound, be it the form of frequencies or words, to leave some lasting impression."

Speech Actions, which began Wednesday, will continue until April 5. The full listing of poem readings and events, including a poetry brunch, are listed at meta-gallery.net. 

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