Commonwealth and Council

The Assonant Armory

Elana Mann


Commonwealth and Council presents The Assonant Armory by Elana Mann, an exhibition of sculptural instruments for the human voice retooled from musical horns and megaphones in solidarity with social justice movements.

Mann creates hybrid forms, synthesizing casts of the human figure with acoustic properties. These sculptural instruments demonstrate the symbolic and physical ways vocal sounds travel through the human body and affect the politics of the surrounding world. Hand gestures implemented for “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” call out for social justice by literally covering up the mouth of the speaker, while simultaneously amplifying the voice. Whereas “Donald Trump(et)” effectively dampens hate speech by plugging a megaphone with a life cast of an anus, rendering it mute.

In the exhibition, twenty plastic casts of “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” are presented in an armory-like setting, assembled and ready for marches into the streets or heated debates. Aluminum casts of “hands-up-don’t-shoot-horns” and “histophones” penetrate the parameters of the room where the bronze “Donald Trump(et)” listens in silence. This architectural intervention boosts the voices of the people in the surrounding hallways, displacing the political silos most citizens occupy in complicity.

The Assonant Armory is a turning point for Mann who, for the past six years, has focused on the act of listening as it relates to political and social change. She has explored listening through military spying devices, antique hearing aids, experimental choirs, and community engaged dialogues. With this new series of sculptural instruments for the human voice, she shifts her attention from active listener to conscientious speaker.

A performance with the sculptural instruments at the opening night of the exhibition will examine the sound bites and resistance songs floating through the airwaves of this electoral season. Performance scores are inspired and written for individuals who influence the art and activist landscape of Los Angeles. The performance will take place at 8PM on September 24th and includes: Marshall Astor, John Bertal, Toro Castaño, Justin Dixon, Diana-Sofia Estrada, Corey Fogel, Amanda Yates Garcia, Janice Gomez, Robby Herbst, Atticus Korman, Michele Jaquis, Allison Johnson, Kimberly Kim, laub, Derrick Maddox, Jennifer Moon, Thinh Nguyen, Guan Rong, Yoshie Sakai, and Mariangeles Soto-Diaz.

Special thanks: Jean-Paul Leonard, Mihail Mann-Leonard, Belle & Jason Mann, Mary Hill, Rob Lan, John Birtel, Audrey Chan, Timothy Berg, Rebekah Myers, Jonas N. T. Becker, James Naish, and O&M Leather.

Elana Mann (b. 1980, Boston, MA) has presented her artwork in city parks, museums, galleries, and buses including: the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Ben Maltz Gallery, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles; REDCAT, Los Angeles; The Ford Foundation, New York; The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The Getty Villa, Los Angeles; LA Metro Freewaves project; and the Lu Xun Academy of Fine Arts, Shenyang, China. She is involved with numerous collaborative/collective endeavors and most recently organized Chats About Change with Robby Herbst, a series of grass-roots conversations with artists involved in creative social change. She is a recipient of awards from the California Community Foundation, the Center for Creative Innovation, and the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. Her projects have been covered by the Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, NPR, O Globo, El País, La República, and X-Tra Magazine, among others. Her writing has been published in periodicals and books such as Afterall journal, Art 21, and In the Canyon, Revise the Canon. She received her BFA from Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO and her MFA from California Institute of the Arts, Valencia, CA. Mann lives in South Pasadena with her partner and son.