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Press Releases

James Webb: We Listen for the Future

16 Aug 2016

Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents recent work by interdisciplinary artist James Webb in the 18th-century Chapel and open air this autumn. The exhibition, We Listen for the Future comprises four sound pieces and runs from 1 October 2016 until 26 February 2017. The artist will take up a residency at YSP in 2017, which will result in a new site-specific work for the Park.

Born in 1975 in Kimberley, South Africa, Webb is one of the foremost artists of his generation and is known especially for his sound installations. Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016, fills the Chapel and references the influential Robert Morris work Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1961. This powerful wall of loudspeakers broadcasts the rhythmic sound of hands beating on doors. It resonates physically and references ancient law of religious sanctuary, as well as the current refugee crisis. In contrast, All that is Unknown, 2016, comprises a pair of speakers separated by the length of a room, playing the sound of heartbeats at the threshold of audibility so that they can only be experienced in close quarters, drawing us into a space that is intimate by association.

In the open air, There’s no place called home, 2004–, is a site-specific element of an on-going project to locate foreign birdsong in non-native environments. It uses a contrasting and mixed audio soundtrack to appear as “real” and “lifelike” as possible. It is especially pertinent in the manmade Bretton Estate of YSP and so near to the home of Charles Waterton at Walton Hall, who was one of the first naturalists and known for introducing the little owl to Britain.

We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far, 2012, introduces to YSP the calls of jackals from partner organisation the NIROX Foundation Trust. NIROX is based in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, an area listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on account of its extraordinary palaeo-anthropological treasures and unique landscape.

Webb’s work often makes use of ellipsis, displacement and détournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. He is acclaimed for his sophisticated practice that employs a variety of media including audio, installation and text, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre.

Notes to Editors

About James Webb

Webb has presented his work around the world at institutions such as Wanås Konst in Sweden, the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, France, CCA Kitakyushu in Japan and the Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan, as well as in major international exhibitions such as the 12th Bienal de la Habana (2015), 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), the 3rd Marrakech Biennale (2009), the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival and the 8th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon (2007). His work is represented in the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery (Cape Town), FRAC Champagne-Ardenne (Reims), Khalid Shoman Foundation (Amman), Kaiser Wilhelm Museum (Krefeld), Johannesburg Art Gallery (Johannesburg), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum (Port Elizabeth), and Vranken Pommery (Reims). In 2012, Webb was the subject of the survey show, MMXII, at the Johannesburg Art Gallery. Recent projects include the creation of an associative audio guide for the famous Skogskykogården cemetery in Stockholm, and La Syzygie, a multidimensional reading of the Théâtre Graslin in Nantes. Other recent projects include a solo exhibition at Galerie Imane Farès, Paris (2016) and group exhibition History Unfolds at Historiska, Stockholm (2016–2017).

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James Webb Media Release

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James Webb, Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016. Courtesy the artist, blank projects, Galerie Imane Farés and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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James Webb, There’s No Place Called Home (Yorkshire Sculpture Park), 2015. Courtesy the artist, blank projects, Galerie Imane Farès and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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James Webb, All that is unknown, 2016. Courtesy the artist, blank projects, Galerie Imane Farés and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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James Webb, We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far (Yorkshire Sculpture Park), 2012.

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James Webb, Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016. Courtesy the artist, blank projects, Galerie Imane Farés and YSP. Photo © Jonty Wilde

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Size: 1.94Mb

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