Sunday, August 12, 2012



by Tristan R. Whiston & Moynan King

Voice is a system equal to sexuality —as punishing, as pleasure-giving: 
as elective, as ineluctable 

Performance Installation
August 24, 7-9pm
August 25, 11am-1pm // 7-9pm
August 26, 2-4pm

Artist talk
August 25, 1pm

The Christie Studio
Artscape Wychwood Barns
601 Christie Street, #170
TorontoTristan R. Whiston and Moynan King are no strangers to performance art that interrogates the voice as a heavily gendered vocal instrument that profoundly governs the ways in which we perceive the body. In an issue of the Canadian Theatre Review (CTR - winter 2011) Whiston's and King's past work with the The Boychoir of Lesbos was featured in an essay by, uh, well, me... 
                    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)


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.

                          MOYNAN KING

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

New Adventures in Sound Art:



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:

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