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Listenings (2016) was a performance installation offered on December 8th, 2016 when Water Protectors camped at Standing Rock Lakota Sioux Reservation to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline's violation of treaty rights and the endangerment of the Cannonball River. During the 3 hour installation in her university lobby, Sarah Ashkin asked passersby to play news, poems, stories, and films made at Standing Rock, listening together.  Anyone who encountered this listening practice was given a handout on how to support and respond to the demands of the water protectors. 

Is listening an act of solidarity?

  • PERFORMANCE by Sarah Ashkin


  • CREATED FOR/WITH THE University of Roehampton, London, UK

Listenings collaborator bios 

BENITO STEEN (Santa Clara Pueblo) is a builder, artist and educator. He gravitated early on towards trade arts such as plastering, blacksmithing and woodworking. Always learning and experimenting, he mixes old techniques with the new, to create beautifully sustainable and healthy houses, inventive sets and costumes, and crafted films.

accountability practice + partners

Listenings was created in response to the No Dakota Access Pipeline Movement on the Standing Rock Reservation. Sarah reached out to Lakota-Sioux artist Cannupa Hanska Luger during this time, asking what can folks do in the UK? The answer was to divest from big banks supporting the pipeline, leverage access to press and educational institutions, and listen to the demands, experiences, and voices of the water protectors. Sarah and Benito then collaborated on creating a listening headpiece, inspired and in response to Hanska Luger’s work Everything Anywhere and Rebecca Belmore’ Speaking to Their Mother which feature sculptural amplification of Native voices. During this time, Sarah read and met with Buddhist teachers offering their perspectives on listening as a practice. Finally, Sarah gathered a collection of on-the-ground media, audio clips, and stories created by the water protectors, including audio of the winter night the police fired water canons at the peaceful protectors. For three hours, Sarah played these listenings in a university lobby, wearing the listening device headpiece, moving in a listening score. All those who encountered the work were given a call-to-listen handout on how to support the water protectors. Sarah secured funds to bring Cannupa to Oxford University to present on his work and the No DAPL Movement.

land acknowledgement

Listenings was created in the university lobby of a public university in Southwest London,  as an intervention to demand attention and action for our global water crisis.  GROUND SERIES is grateful to the Indigenous peoples globally who protect our water and we commit to continuing to support and join them in this sacred effort. 

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