Kite aka Suzanne Kite is an Oglála Lakȟóta performance artist, visual artist, and composer raised in Southern California, with a BFA from CalArts in music composition, an MFA from Bard College’s Milton Avery Graduate School, and is a PhD candidate at Concordia University. Kite’s scholarship and practice highlights contemporary Lakota epistemologies through research-creation, computational media, and performance. Recently, Kite has been developing a body interface for movement performances, carbon fibre sculptures, immersive video and sound installations, as well as co-running the experimental electronic imprint, Unheard Records. For the inaugural 2019 Toronto Art Biennial, Kite, with Althea Thauberger, produced an installation, Call to Arms, which features audio and video recordings of their rehearsals with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) York, which also consisted of a live performance with the conch shell sextet, who played the four musical scores composed by Kite. Kite has also published in several journals and magazines, including in The Journal of Design and Science (MIT Press), where the award winning article, “Making Kin with Machines,” co-authored with Jason Lewis, Noelani Arista, and Archer Pechawis, was featured. Currently, she is a 2019 Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation Scholar, and a 2020 Tulsa Artist Fellow.
In an art context: Kite
As an academic author: Suzanne Kite
Oglala Lakota or Oglala Sioux Tribe
She / Her
Born 1990, Sylmar, CA, USA
I ground my practice in a Lakota philosophy which articulates a clear relationship between the body and knowledge-making, which has led me to a listening-based, performance-centered artistic practice. I create systems that engage the whole body in order, imagining new protocols which interrogate past, present, and future Lakota philosophies. My interdisciplinary practice spans sound, video, performance, instrument building, wearable artwork, poetry, lectures, books, interactive installation, and more, with site-specificity always pulsing throughout the work. Lakota epistemologies require a commitment to contextual ethics, which demands that the reality of locations be folded into artworks and into knowledge. My discipline is rooted in sound, composition, and listening, with the understanding that listening occurs through materials or systems which sometimes do not involve audio, but can be purely written or sculptural. My research practice often engages with technologies like AI and Machine Learning, through a belief that Lakota epistemology is done through artwork, especially performative or wearable artwork. The throughlines in my work are sonification, truth and belief, and Lakota ontology and epistemology. These throughlines are all related to each other and have led me to the academic work of my PhD and work with Indigenous protocols and artificial intelligence.
I am the first Indigenous artist to use Machine Learning, a technique of using algorithms to process large data sets with statistical models, in artwork and the first to present ontological arguments in the Artificial Intelligence field. My artistic research has created necessary ethical frameworks for the development of Artificial Intelligence through publications, international workshops, and exhibition, engaging with community-driven research models and collaborations with Indigenous peoples, such as collaborative art-making workshops.
In building machine learning software, Artificial Intelligence, and even physical computing devices, engagement with ontologies different than those that bend towards the destruction of Unčí Makȟá (Grandmother Earth) is required to prevent harm to human and nonhuman communities now and in the future. Unčí Makȟá is home to many Indigenous ontologies which provide localized, time-tested frameworks for building and co-existing with humans and non-humans in ethical ways: treating nonhumans with collaboration and mutual respect. Lakȟóta ontology is a way of being, where objects that seem inanimate to non-Lakȟóta eyes are alive with spirit. Lakȟóta ontology and epistemology inherently support collaboration and mutual respect with nonhuman kin such as stones. I engage these principles of collaboration and respect, through artistic methodologies, such as collective decision-making processes and the creation of processes that address and propose alternative frameworks for reciprocity between human communities and locations being mined for rare earth minerals in the creation of physical computation systems.
Much of this approach to composition can also be seen in the composition of circular or spiral-time Machine Learning systems in my artworks which listen to instruments and deliver visual prompts to the musician, prompting sound for the system to again listen to. These systems of composition do produce sonically related compositions, sometimes chaotic, but fluid, sonic cosmologyscapes which reveal moments of clarity by design. This practice requires listening, often an expanded listening beyond the sonic.
Nicole Kelly Westman. “Concrete constructs of linearity.” Luma Quarterly ISSUE 008, VOLUME TWO | SPRING 2017. https://lumaquarterly.com/issues/volume-two/008-spring/concrete-constructs-of-linearity/
Erin Sutherland. “10 Indigenous Artists Forging Community Ties.” Canadian Art, Summer 2017: Kinship Issue. 19 June 2017. https://canadianart.ca/features/spotlight-constellations-of-kin/
Natasha Chaykowski. “In Focus: “Everything I Say Is True.” ” BlackFlash, 34.3. 2017.
Kristina Baudemann and Suzanne Kite. “Fragmentary Transmissions: On the Poetics, Practice, and Futurism of Listener.” World Art Journal, Volume 9, 2019. World Art Journal article and interview,
Kate Taylor. “How the Toronto Biennale Will Stand Out in a Crowded Landscape.” The Globe and Mail. 22 September 2019. Link
Amy Fung. “Amy Fung on the First Toronto Biennale of Art.” Artforum. 30 October 2019. Link
“The Best of Toronto’s Art Scene 2019”. Now Toronto. Published: December 10 2019. Link
Best Art Performance- Call to Arms
“Thauberger and kite Q+A”. Partners in Art. Published: November 26 2019. Link
Lou Cornum. “In Their Wide-Ranging Installations and Performances, The New Red Order Presents Serious Jokes.” ARTNews. 14 January 2020. Link
Cam Scott. “Kite, People You Must Look At Me (2020).” The Free Jazz Collective. 12 August 2020. Link
Ginny Underwood. “Oglala, Cherokee Women Chosen for Elite Fellowship.” Indian Country Today. 1 October 2020. Link
Anne-Marie Boisvert. “Suzanne Kite: An Indigenous Multidisciplinary Artist.” Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal. 20 January 2021. http://ciac.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/CIAC-MTL_2021_SUZANNE-KITE_BOISVERT_en.pdf
Susie Winters. “A Portal to a Moment: ‘Aǧúyabskuyela’ by Suzanne Kite.” Peripheral Review. 22 January 2021. Link
Rita Pyrillis. “Native Sounds.” Symphony Magazine, Spring 2021, part of the League for American Orchestras. https://americanorchestras.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Native-Sounds.pdf
Riel Bellow and Kite. “Practising the Unattainable.” Canadian Art. Spring 2021: Frequencies. March 11, 2021. https://canadianart.ca/interviews/practising-the-unattainable-bellow-kite/
Ian Bourland, “Countering the Fetishization of Indigenous Art,” Frieze Magazine, March 15, 2021, https://www.frieze.com/article/countering-festishization-indigenous-art .
Harry Burke. “Speculations on the Infrared,” Art Agenda Reviews, March 18, 2021, https://www.art-agenda.com/features/383425/speculations-on-the-infrared .
Sarah Mackenzie. “Artificial intelligence is shaping the future of music — but at what cost?” CBC Music. March 18, 2021. https://www.cbc.ca/music/artificial-intelligence-is-shaping-the-future-of-music-but-at-what-cost-1.5952955
Eliza Burke. “Experimenta Life Forms”, Artlink, 14 April 2021, https://www.artlink.com.au/articles/4910/experimenta-life-forms/
“Loner Culture 2.0- Better Off Alone – Kite.” Now Toronto. 16 April 2021. Link
Jamie Lammerding. “You can still take in online opportunities: Five things to do this weekend in Saskatoon.” The Star Phoenix. 9 July 2021. Link
Stephanie Creaghan, “Mantle, at Celine Bureau”, Milieux, August 4, 2021.
Mariana Muñoz Gómez. “When Veins Meet Like Rivers; ᑲᑎᓐᓂᖅ / okhížata / maadawaan.” Plug In ICA, August 21 – December 17, 2021. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Akimblog Post.
Kelly Boutsalis. “These Indigenous Women Are Breaking New Ground in Tech.” August 25, 2021. https://linktr.ee/blog/indigenous-women-impact-tech/ .
Didier Morelli. “MOMENTA 2021 Centres Indigenous and Nonhumanist Notions of Nature.” Frieze Magazine. 30 September 2021. Link.
Kitty Kerr. “The Plurality of Meaning: innovative art exhibit explores the complexities of convergences and divergence.” The Manitoban. October 6, 2021. Link
Jane Wilkinson. “Natural Causes.” Artforum. 20 October 2021. Link
Alexander Varty. “Music Review: Vancouver New Music’s Electric Fields Festival Pushes Sound and Motion Technology.” Stir: Arts & Culture, Vancouver, BC. 31 October 2021. Link