American Ledger No. 3 and Three Solos

Raven Chacon

June 15, 2023, 6:30pm

For this performance, an ensemble of vocalists interprets Raven Chacon’s American Ledger No. 3 (2020), a score devoted to the journalist and anti-lynching campaigner Ida B. Wells. Raven Chacon, artist, composer, and musician from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, often creates compositions in the form of graphic scores, trading traditional notation for visual symbols to be interpreted by performers, whether individually or collectively. In addition to utilizing his scores in performances, Chacon presents them as artworks, calling on viewers to interpret the symbols in much the same way as musicians.

The graphic score in American Ledger makes use of symbols of political union that have commonly been employed by American states even as they have denied the rights, suppressed the speech, and devalued the lives of people of color. Chacon has printed the score on a flag and in a newsprint publication that includes additional instructions for performers and connects Wells’s writing to contemporary police violence. The ensemble performing the work is led by the artist and musician Kinlaw.

The New York City premiere of American Ledger No.3 is followed by three solo performances of compositions from For Zitkála-Šá, a series of thirteen graphic scores devoted to the Yankton Dakota writer, musician, and activist Zitkála-Šá (b.1876). The scores are dedicated to—and meant as portraits of—contemporary American Indian, First Nations, and Mestiza women who work with music and sound. (The scores were recently published along with a series of essays by New Documents.)

This event is presented with Triple Canopy, which co-organized the premiere of American Ledger No. 3 last year as part of the exhibition Signaling at KinoSaito, organized by Alexander Provan, the magazine’s editor.

Image: Raven Chacon, American Ledger No.3 (2020). Courtesy the artist.

Performers for American Ledger No.3: Chantal Michelle, Riven Ratanavanh, Aeir Ricks, Laura Hughes, Melodie Stancato, Quinn Dixon, Selena Liu, Michelle Hyun Kim, Sam Christopher.

Performers for American Ledger No.3 and Three Solos: Kinlaw, Grace Villamil, Sydney Spann.

Raven Chacon is a composer, performer, and artist from Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation. As a solo artist, Chacon has exhibited, performed, or had works performed at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s 2022 Biennial (New York City), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Renaissance Society (Chicago), REDCAT (Los Angeles), Vancouver Art Gallery, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin), SITE Santa Fe, Ende Tymes Festival, and the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.).

As a member of the group Postcommodity from 2009 to 2018, Chacon co-created artworks that were presented at the Whitney Biennial, documenta 14, Carnegie International 57, and, in the case of the two-mile-long installation Repellent Fence (2015), on the border of the United States and Mexico. Since 2004, he has mentored over three hundred Native high school composers in the writing of new string quartets for the Native American Composer Apprenticeship Project (NACAP).

Raven Chacon won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 2022 and is the recipient of awards and fellowships from United States Artists, Creative Capital, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the American Academy Berlin, the Bemis Center, and the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

Kinlaw is an audio composer, choreographer, and sculptor whose work highlights processes that accommodate and respond to the changing frequencies (i.e., liveness) of space. Their practice includes producing albums, creating live interdisciplinary performance works, building sound-sculptural machines, and teaching all-level vocal and movement workshops.

Kinlaw’s performance works have been presented by museums and institutions including the Museum of Modern Art; MoMA PS1; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the New Museum; Pioneer Works; and Mana Contemporary. In 2022, Kinlaw was a musician-in-residence at Pioneer Works and a member of New Inc. at the New Museum, focusing on Experiments in Art and Technology and psychoacoustical research at Bell Labs.