Ways of listening: A workshop with James Webb

Can sound reincarnate the past, alter our present, and predict the future? Is there love at first sound, a yearning for the white noise of our mother’s womb, and a connection to the Big Bang in the hissing static of our old radio sets? How do we receive the voices of protest? What can the din of the city teach us? And how can we open our eyes by informing our ears? For the Spring Sessions, James Webb will conduct a 5-part workshop orientated around conditions of listening and responding. Themes to be communally explored include sound as a conceptual and sculptural media in contemporary art and culture, sound as a means of location, exploration and spatial imagination, and issues of throwing sound, beaming signals and leaving traces. The workshop will also initiate group listening sessions, spontaneous improvisations, shared story telling and romantic, observational walks.


 James Webb is a South African interdisciplinary artist and experimental musician. His work, framed in large-scale installations in galleries and museums, or as unannounced interventions in public spaces, often makes use of ellipsis, displacement anddétournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. Webb is known for a practice that employs audio, installation and text, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre.

His work has been presented around the world at institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, CCA Kitakyushu in Japan and the Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan, as well as on major international exhibitions such as the 2013 Biennale di Venezia, the 2010 Marrakech Biennale, the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival and the 2007 Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon. His work is represented in the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, the Darat al Funun, Amman, and Vranken Pommery, Reims.

Webb’s latest solo exhibition, The Two Insomnias, was shown at blank projects in Cape Town, and evoked themes of addiction, futurism, revolution and romance. His previous solo show, the ‘metrospective’ MMXII, was exhibited at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, and recent projects include the creation of an associative audio guide for the famous Skogskykogården cemetery in Stockholm. Webb will be participating in the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture as part of the Fittja Pavilion curated by the Botkyrka Konsthall.



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