Li(sa E.) Harris
Ballroom Marfa presents unlit: sof landin, a solo exhibition by interdisciplinary artist, musician, and filmmaker Li(sa E.) Harris. Through an intuitive and experimental process, the artist explores sound as a medium for liberation and resistance. The artist creates an immersive dream space with newly commissioned works: a nine-hour composition, a non-linear film, sculpture, and sonic collage. Through this new body of work, Li envisions safe spaces for beings—Black beings in particular—to soften and activate the power of dreams and the unconscious as a means for transcendence, survival, preservation, and joy.
unlit: sof landin is a component of D.R.E.A.M = A WAY TO AFRAM, an ongoing body of work that extends beyond this Ballroom installation. Using performance, video and sound, D.R.E.A.M. draws from Afro-diasporic ceremonial histories, including the ways in which Black inventors create the blues, spirituals, house and trance music to transport to different dimensions.
Li’s exhibition is centered on Sleep On It, a nine-hour composition that guides listeners through a dream cycle transporting to AFRAM—an imagined African-America. Listeners of Sleep On It are invited to rest on seating created by sound artist Maria Chávez. The work summons hallucinatory vistas though Li’s layering of improvisational performance, field recordings, vibraphone, chimes, vocal fragments, Wurlitzer piano, and visual projections.
Li further uses visionary composer Pauline Oliveros’s concept of Deep Listening® to organize the multitude of sounds and ideas that flow throughout the nine-hour duration of Sleep On It. Oliveros (1932–2016) defined Deep Listening as “listening in as many ways as possible to everything that can possibly be heard all of the time,” a concept and practice now taught at the Center for Deep Listening in Troy, New York.
The exhibition also features Dream Machine, a sonic installation that collages together unique fragments of spoken memory, story, and voice, to create the sensation of a non-coherent listening space. Listeners hear fragments of the artist’s recollections of dreams deconstructed and re-woven into an intimate aural dreamscape as they enter and exit the exhibition. Together, Dream Machine and Sleep On It invite visitors to experience a softer way of listening, dreaming and being.
unlit: sof landin is organized by Sarah Meléndez, Ballroom Marfa Music Curator.
D.R.E.A.M = A WAY TO AFRAM will be on view at DiverseWorks in Houston, TX from September 6–9, with performances on September 8 & 9 and an additional performance at Ballroom Marfa on September 2.
Li(sa E.) Harris
Li(sa E.) Harris “Li” (b. 1981) was born in Houston, Texas and lives and works in Houston, Texas. Li received her masters degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music in 2004 and her Deep Listening® Certification from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2017. Li has performed and participated in exhibitions at Carnegie Hall in 2023, Blaffer Art Museum in 2022, the Moody Center for The Performing Arts in 2021, Redline Arts in 2021. Li is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (2022), Brown Foundation Inaugural Affiliate Fellowship at the American Academy in Rome (2021), Dorthea Tanning Award for Music/Sound from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts (2021) and has participated in residencies including the Hermitage Artist Retreat in 2021, South Arts Jazz Road Creative Residency in 2021, Ballroom Sessions–The Farther Place in 2021, and A Studio in the Woods in 2021. She was recently a guest lecturer at Harvard University’s Department of Music and a research fellow at Harvard ArtLab in 2022.
This exhibition is generously supported by Moody Foundation and the Ruth Arts Foundation with support from City of Marfa; Fairfax Dorn & Mark Glimcher; Virginia Lebermann & Family; Lebermann Foundation; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees and International Surf Club.
Special thanks to International Surf Club Founders Rachel & Jeff Arnold; Louisa Stude Sarofim; Sara Carter; Eleanor Acquavella Dejoux; Christopher Hill & Lachlan Miles; and Alex Logsdail.