Name No Name

Name No Name, by Raylene Campbell–is a thirty-minute performance incorporating elements of autobiography, sound recordings, composition, improvisation, and performance art. I composed this performance with the recorded interviews of my birth mother, birth father, and parents serving as the impetus of the creative process. The compositional strategies came from a consideration of music as language, the musical nature of the spoken word, a desire to challenge the traditional audience/performer relationship, use of acoustic space, use of architectural (social) space, the direction of audience attention, my role/character as a performer, the audience’s role in the space, and the inclination to express an experience.


Sound recording: separate interviews with my birth mother and birth father regarding the events preceding their decision to put me up for adoption.

The show begins with me entering the room, in costume, and taking my place on a chair in the centre. Then a man (a volunteer from the local community) enters playing the accordion and explores the rattling reeds of the lowest pedal tone on the instrument while walking around the audience. When the recorded piece ends he continues for a short while and then gives me the accordion.

Who are you looking at?


Sound recording: interview with my parents regarding my adoption.

I improvise with high frequency combination tones on the accordion throughout the piece, beginning quietly and sparsely, and developing longer, moving combination tones after the end of the recorded piece.

What sound are you making?


Sound recording: my birth mother telling me the story of my birth.

I perform breathing sounds on the accordion, synchronized with my own regular breath, that gradually become disrupted. ·

What do you feel?


The sound recording contains a convergence/collision of stories from my birth mother, birth father, and parents.

During this improvise accordion performance I move off my chair and become more physically engaged with the audience within the central performance circle.

What is missing?


I begin this piece by telling the stories of my names. This is a cue for the choir members (volunteers that I recruit from the local community), who are seated in pairs throughout the audience, to share their own name stories with their partner. They remain seated as they tell their stories. They may speak at the same time or take turns, and they may whisper, use their regular speaking voice, or speak loudly. Once they’ve finished sharing their stories with each other they are to take their place in the Muskox Song formation.

What is a story of your name?


What is your role in this space?

There are some parallel developments that take place throughout this performance. There are movements of abstraction towards form, alterity towards convergence, the individual into the community, and a personal story into many person’s stories.

Several years later, in 2012, I presented an iteration of Name No Name as a “drawer installation” in Curiousities: a fast & dirty project ( I presented the photos and mementos of my families along with the four audio files posted above, which could be heard using headphones.