Dr. Appelbaum’s Soundscapes Selected for Queer Ecologies Art Exhibition

By Emily Horowitz | July 7, 2022
Dr. Peter Appelbaum listening joyfully to music through headphones

A collection of “sound walks” by Peter Appelbaum, Ph.D., professor of Education and director of Education Studies and Art Education Programs, is to be included in Queer Ecologies, an indoor and outdoor art exhibition at two sites in Philadelphia this summer.

Dr. Appelbaum’s We’re Where? Hear Here: Que’re Queer? challenges and disrupts binary thinking by playing the sounds of either the William Way LGBT Community Center or Bartram’s Garden for visitors in the other location.

Disrupting Binary Thinking

According to Dr. Appelbaum, the many differences between the two sites – which are cosponsoring the exhibition – serve as “an analogy for the ways that binaries operate in our culture and society in general: binaries such as male/female, straight/queer, concerned/unconcerned about climate change, urban center/outlying nature preserve, and so on.”

“What someone thinks they are experiencing and how they are understanding their environment is not so obvious to another person,” Dr. Appelbaum adds. “What a natural environment ‘is’ or ‘is not’ varies depending on how one understands location, place, space, and sound has the ability to help people to ‘hear’ the ‘here’ they are living.”

About Queer Ecologies

The curators of the Queer Ecologies exhibition invited all LGBTQIA+ artists in the greater Philadelphia region ages 18+ to submit proposals to have their work featured. Preference was given to projects with an LGBTQIA+ response and/or commentary on:

  • The climate crisis, especially if through an environmental justice and/or indigenous rights perspective
  • Access to the outdoors by LGBTQIA+ communities, especially those of color
  • Appreciation of nature by LGBTQIA+ communities and artists
  • The relationship between LGBTQIA+ identities and the natural environment

Interactive Soundscapes

From July 14–Aug. 18, 2022, posters containing QR codes will be on display at William Way Center and Bartram’s Garden. The QR codes link to online walking paths with accompanying sounds to listen to along the way.

Dr. Appelbaum encourages visitors to We’re Where to reflect on the following questions:

  • What is the relationship between LGBTQIA+ identities and the natural environment?
  • In what ways does each serve as a metaphor for the other? What is a “natural” environment? One in which someone naturally fits? Something to do with nature?
  • In what ways do our experiences of man-made “nature” and naturally man-made experience mirror assumptions that people make about identity, fluidity, change and the natural itself?
  • What sounds like nature to you?
  • What is naturally sound (logical) in your experience?

Dr. Appelbaum is a creator of interactive soundscapes that allow us to explore our taken-for-granted assumptions about reality. He hopes his work sparks ideas for creating community, crossing boundaries of life experience, and nurturing solutions to human destruction of our planet. He also composes music using everyday and found objects and performs on French horn and experimental instruments in numerous jazz, alternative, and contemporary ensembles.