This April, a year-long, immersive art and sound installation by Indigenous artist Nathan Young is coming to Pennsbury Manor, a reconstruction of William Penn’s home, on the Delaware River.
The installation, nkwiluntàmën: I long for it; I am lonesome for it (such as the sound of a drum), has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.
nkwiluntàmën opens on Saturday, April 15, and will run Wednesday through Sunday afternoons, 1 to 4 p.m., through April 2024. Admission is $3 and includes entry to Pennsbury’s grounds. Four public programs in and around Philadelphia will accompany the exhibition.
As an artist and member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians, a federally recognized Lenape tribe, Young will reimagine this American historic landmark as a site for both reflecting on the past and envisioning new futures that honor Indigenous perspectives.
“The Delaware people still exist; we are still a community and many of us are engaged in highly sophisticated work,” said Young. “This installation showcases sound as a powerful art form and uses modern technology to add meaning to a historic place. I hope that nkwiluntàmën inspires visitors to explore the contemporary work of the Delaware people.”
In this self-guided, outdoor sound walk, Young’s work will take participants on a journey through Pennsbury Manor’s riverfront grounds with original compositions of music, personal narrative and environmental recordings. Participants can access the recording through their own smart devices and headphones, or provided devices. Those who cannot visit in-person can experience it through the project’s accompanying phone application.
Inspired by the Native American saying, “Our songs come from the wind,” the sound walk reflects on the Lenape practices that survive the tribe’s diaspora across North America and invites audiences to meditate on enduring Indigenous relationships to land.
A series of “sound sculptures” will help to animate the landscape by emitting a composition that adds layers of environmental sound to the experience, inviting audiences to pause and reflect.
Music collaborators for this project include Rush Falknor and Robbie Wing, Kite, David Broome and Matt Magerkurth, Lea Bertucci, Ben Vida, Nokosee Fields, Matteo Galindo and Warren Realrider, and Leya.
“Pennsbury Manor has long focused on the life of William Penn, but in the last decade, we’ve been looking beyond Penn’s legacy to that of the Lenape people who first inhabited this land,” said Doug Miller, historic site administrator at Pennsbury Manor. “Nathan Young’s installation will help tell this complex story through an artistic lens.”
The project’s curators, Ryan Strand Greenberg and Theo Loftis, are known for their work on 2019’s Ghost Ship exhibition on Philadelphia’s Delaware River, which featured a narrative audio tour offering a view into the historical landscape of the river.
“The Philadelphia area has never seen contemporary artwork by a member of the Delaware Tribe of Indians on such a large scale,” Miller continued. “We invite our audience to connect more deeply with the land that Pennsbury stands on, while experiencing this sophisticated work by a celebrated, contemporary Indigenous artist.”
Visit nkwiluntamen.com/ for more information. The phonetic pronunciation of nkwiluntàmën is KWEE-LU-NOM-IN. Pennsbury Manor is located at 400 Pennsbury Memorial Road, Morrisville.