In 2019, Marisa Demarco, Dylan McLaughlin, and Jessica Zeglin developed There Must Be Other Names for the River
, a music composition spurred by severe drought brought on by human-caused climate change and miles of dry riverbed where there should be water in the Rio Grande. Ever-evolving, this data-based musical score has inspired a variety of implementations such as live performance, sound and object-based installation, and a web-based gathering place for interactive listening and contribution. Demarco, McLaughlin, and Zeglin implore us to “consider the many ways we interact with the river we currently call the Rio Grande” and to “consider the many names people who live with the river have called it for thousands of years. Consider the many ways of relating to the river that these names represent.”
There Must Be Other Names For The River (2019-ongoing) can be heard at timed intervals along the length of the ramada in SITE Santa Fe’s neighboring Railyard Park. The singers’ pre-recorded voices emerge from concealed speakers placed along the pathway, representing more than 1,800 miles of Rio Grande flows. Six musicians vocalize streamflow data from six points along the Rio Grande, engaging with the river’s past, present, and future.
The body of water is also articulated as part of this work in a large-scale durational painting made with river water and pigment, featured inside SITE Santa Fe. The mural is updated with daily streamflow data from the point along the river that’s nearest to the museum, changing the mural’s shape and flow like the river itself. The work raises questions such as “How will we continue to live with and through the river?” and “How will we continue to live with and through each other, as we’re connected by its waters?”
The conclusion of this multifaceted exhibition of There Must Be Other Names For the River is a live choral performance presented in SITE Santa Fe’s auditorium on July 29, 2023. Local and regional musicians who live along the river will embody fifty years of streamflow data. Monica Demarco sings the Headwaters; Ryan Dennison sings the Albuquerque area; Kenneth Cornell sings just below Elephant Butte Dam; Mauro Woody sings Big Bend; Antonia Montoya sings Juárez/El Paso; and Marya Errin Jones sings the mouth of the river at the Gulf of Mexico. Performing from historical references, as well as from their personal relationships with the river, the vocalists envision and realize possibilities further into the future than scientific studies currently predict.