As part of its new Beyond CAMH initiative series, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston today announced the launch of the Houston edition of A Counting, a remotely accessible, participatory public art project by Texas-born, New York- and Boston-based artist Ekene Ijeoma, founder of Poetic Justice group at MIT Media Lab. Reflecting on the linguistic and ethnic diversity of the United States by capturing voice portraits of major U.S. cities, the project marks the first Museum collaboration of the artist in his home state.
Conceived as an ongoing series, the generative sound and video work will ultimately feature voices of Houstonians counting to 100 in their native languages, with a different voice speaking each number in a unique language and with the number 1 spoken in an indigenous language. The Houston edition of A Counting will also include a separately editioned time-lapse video featuring participants of the first 100 days from the projects launch, which will document the evolution of the work as more voices and languages are submitted during this period. Building off Ijeomas practice illuminating issues of social justice through works of art and marking the first project from his Poetic Justice group, A Counting addresses the undercounting of marginalized communities in the United States census.
Ekene Ijeomas expansive practice brings form to unseen facets of contemporary lifespanning issues surrounding equity, race, class, and transformative justicehis work presents the renewed possibilities of approaching the world through the restorative lens of poetic justice, said CAMH Executive Director Hesse McGraw. We are thrilled to partner with Ekene and communities throughout the city to represent the diversity of Houston through a vocal portrait. A Counting encourages us to truly hear one another, and to recognize the value of the many voices that make up our city.
Starting today, the Houston edition of A Counting can be accessed by visiting camh.org/beyond or by dialing 281-248-8730. Houstonians wishing to add their voice to the project can call the hotline where they are prompted to record themselves counting in their native language and invited to share more about where their language is spoken and how its numerical system works. Additionally, individuals from around the world are invited to contribute to the project by helping with the transcriptions of the recordings by texting TRANSCRIBE to the same number or visiting a-counting.us/transcribe
The Houston edition of A Counting follows the launch of the project in New York City in June 2020, which expanded upon an early version of the project presented as an installation at the Museum of the City of New York in fall 2019. Following todays launch of the reimagined remotely-accessible work in Houston, the series will continue to expand over the course of 2020 to include new editions for other major cities across the country through partnerships with museums and cultural institutions, inviting the participation of the broadest possible spectrum of communities within the United States.
In a divided society, A Counting is a meditation and speculation on what a truly united country would sound like, said Ekene Ijeoma. Houston has reached majority minority status ahead of the curve across the country, and we look forward to partnering with CAMH and Houston communities to capture the myriad voices in unison.