Listening to Love

Next time can we choose our gender? · 2011

John Shipman, images from Listening to Love, 2011 An interactive multimedia installation presented on 1–2 October as part of ScotiaBank Nuit Blanche Toronto 2011, Listening to Love: Next time can we choose our gender? explores the complexity of gender and sexuality while nudging participants towards an openness and empathy for the diverse choices all of us make in our search for love and understanding.

Hear songs of love as you enter a darkened church. Sit down at one of eight gendRphones booths. Select the sex and gender of the voice that will speak to you. Listen to words of love. Then explore the Museum of Gender Archaeology. Ten recent artifacts collected by amateur archaeologists present aspects of gender and sexuality in our time.


Eight gendRphone booths are arranged hexagonally around a small, open courtyard. Each booth has a gendRphone console and a rotating stool. The console consists of a commercial telephone with two additional rotary switches that enable users to choose the biological sex and the social gender of the voice from whom they would like to hear words of love. Software voices speak words of love from poems and love letters in various combinations including female sex + female gender, male sex + male gender, female sex + male gender and male sex + female gender.

GendRphone cards

Phone booths in some neighborhoods are covered with business cards advertising mini-cabs, take-aways and sexual services wedged in every opening. Visitors were encouraged to collect all colours and variations of the double-sided Call Me cards tucked around the gendRphone consoles. Each card included a quotation from Marcel Duchamp, «You are your own museum of gender archaeology.» or from Marshall McLuhan, «When you are on the phone … you have no body.»

Museum of Gender Archaeology (MoGA)

The Museum of Gender Archaeology understands gender to be the ambiguous confluence of biological sex, psychological being, and social behaviour. MoGA proposes an archaeology on the surface, of the slightly-out-dated, the still hidden-in-plain-sight, an archaeology of the present.

Artifacts on loan to Listening to Love include a Gender Changer electrical connector, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel Mary Anne, and boy or girl field documentation.

Visit the MoGA gallery.
Read visitor comments and a review.

Playlists for Listening to Love

Words of love
Adapted from 1001 Love Poems, The Love Letter Collection, Malu Baumgarten, and Luce Irigaray.
Songs of love
Johnny Welch, Since I fell for you
Tracy Chapman, Baby can I hold you?
Patsy Cline, Crazy
Amy Winehouse, Will you still love me tomorrow?
Jacques Brel, Ne me quitte pas
Melissa Etheridge, Come to my window
Nina Simone, I've got life
Françoise Hardy, Tous les garçons
Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah
Tuneyards, Killa
Betty LaVette, Let me down easy
Snuffy Walden, Friday Night Lights
As licensed by Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, and Re:Sound

GendRphone electronics designed by Wil Moll
Museum of Gender Archaeology display boxes designed by Clara Shipman
Museum of Gender Archaeology chartered archaeologists · Diana Chastain, Veronica Clarke-Hanik, Dan Eylon, Myung-Sun Kim, Stan Kryzanowski, Monique LeRay, Mani Mazinani, Sheila Moll, Tom Ngo, Clara Shipman, Emilie Shipman-Wight, Joy Shipman, Elisabeth Shipman, Victoria Shipman, Marcelle St-Amant, Susanne Tabur, Chloe Taft, Laurel Taft, John Yudelman, Suzanne Zeigler with thanks to Taimaz Moslemian and many others for their contributions
Photography · Marcelle St-Amant and Victoria Shipman
GendRphonecards · Joy Shipman
Event Volunteers · Nikki Abraham, Lily and Elisabeth Baumgarten, Veronica Clarke-Hanik, Patrick Gallagher, Myung-Sun Kim, Gary Moloney, David Jenkins, Emilie Shipman-Wight, Clara Shipman, Elisabeth Shipman, Victoria Shipman, Andy Wight
With special thanks to Rev. Katherine Brittain, Sheila Moll and St. Matthew's United Church, Marcelle St-Amant, Renwick Burnett, Bruce Kilpatrick

Listening to Love: Next time can we choose our gender? was presented on 1-2 October 2011 at St. Matthew's Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto. For more information, please contact John.

Photos · Marcelle St-Amant