FADO PERFORMANCE ART CENTRE
by Tristan R. Whiston & Moynan King
Voice is a system equal to sexuality —as punishing, as pleasure-giving:
as elective, as ineluctable
TRISTAN R. WHISTON
During an interview conducted for the essay Whiston shed light upon the ways in which voice has played a significant part in his journey from 'female' to 'male' through the use of diverse performance modes.
For [other Boychoir members it was] more game . . .
playing with the character, and varying degrees of in
between, as in, I am doing this character and it has noth-
ing else to do with my life. For me it was a very safe way
to open up the whole exploration of gender and of tran-
sitioning, tasting what that would be like, did I really
want that? Ultimately it was like, it was not enough, I
want to grow up —I’m willing to let go of the voice that I
loved, but that was very much a young boy’s voice or a
woman’s voice . . . Holding on to my voice became some-
thing about growing up so I let go of it. (Interview - CTR 2011)
Trace, the upcoming collaboration between Whiston and King promises to be an exciting and thought provoking examination of Whiston's ongoing investigation of his identity as he begins to take experiences from the past, and the present, and morph them into a future that continues to utilize performance as an expression of bodily change, function, celebration, and wishful performative promise.* The CTR essay took on some of these areas and Whiston expressed his desire to create a vocal performance project rooted in a nostalgia for what has happened, what is happening, and what will continue to happen to his body and his voice as he moves through various periods of his life.
* 'WISHFUL PERFORMATIVE PROMISE' - a term used in order to express the possibilities that any given performance, in life and in art, can embody - the ways in which performance inspires the performer and the audience to examine their own identities, actions, etc. and evolve through a shared performative experience
Whiston also had concerns about how he would become
‘‘for ty or fifty or sixty and [still be] clinging to this twelve
year old self.’’ He feels that ultimately sacrificing his boyish
soprano voice was part of his quest to ‘‘become a man.’’ The
Boychoir was a revelation when [s]he came out as a lesbian in
her twenties and looked around and saw that all her ‘‘friends
kind of look[ed] like boys and sound[ed] like boys. We should
be boy sopranos!’’ into the machinations of becoming, onstage, innocent boys singing choral songs and charming their audiences into dual states of enjoyment and gender curiosity. The experience became a form of conscious, satiric, tongue in cheek, comical bewilderment reflecting strict cultural coding around puberty and all of its traditional gender expectations. (CTR winter 2011)
INFORMATION BELOW FROM FADO PRESS RELEASE
trace: evidence or an indication of the former presence or existence of something
Can one man stand amidst his many voices and find herself there? Can a person sing harmony with different parts of theirselves? Can we trace the sound of ourselves as we change? If so, what remains of the original voice?
Through an exploration of voice, trace transforms a private story into a performative experience integrating sound, video, installation and live performance. Using archival recordings taken before and during Tristan R. Whiston’s gender transition from female to male, along with recent recordings and live vocals, trace explores the idea that change is constant and we are always becoming someone new.
Throughout the installation are multiple speakers, each playing a single part or element in the immersive soundscape. Audience is invited to contribute to the performance by entering one of the installation’s beach inspired changing huts and, using old-fashioned technology, create their own vocal recording, eliciting an experience of auditory self-reflection.
Tristan R. Whiston and Moynan King are artists with distinct multi-disciplinary practices. Their shared interest in ideas of identity, gender, communication and the element of time (in both life and art) brought them together as artistic collaborators early their careers.
Video by Leslie Peters
Set elements by Trixie and Beever
Software design by Dafydd Hughes
Photo by David Hawe
Sound Travels Festival of Sound Art: August 4-31, 2012
MIDDLE C by TRISTAN R. WHISTON
Middle C was produced by Carma Jolly and Tristan R. Whiston for CBC Radio's Outfront in 2007. It won the Premios Ondas award for International Radio and a silver medal at the New York Festivals.
Tristan R. Whiston first performed as a solo soprano at the age of six. With that raw talent, years of hard work led to an accomplished singing career. But Tristan has decided to give up the most precious thing a singer has — the voice. You see, something was never quite right. Tristan always wanted to be a man. Now that dream is about to come true as Tristan embarks upon the process of gender reassignment. In a year’s worth of intimate audio diaries, we hear milestones like Tristan’s first shave. But the most striking thing is the transformation of Tristan’s singing voice. Tristan starts out as a soprano whose voice soars on the high notes. As the testosterone takes effect in Tristan’s body, that sublime voice is ripped to shreds and has to be completely recast - just like his identity.
Follow the link to listen to Middle C: