James Webb, Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016. Mehrkanal-Soundinstallation, Ausstellungsansicht Blank Projects, Kapstadt, Foto: Kyle Morland, Courtesy der Künstler, Blank Projects und Galerie Imane Farès, Paris

MAY 24 - JUNE 18, 2017

James Webb’s sound installations touch on political, social and emotional topics with subtle and poetic directness. This South African artist has, for example, recorded prayers from all the religions in a city and broadcast them together to create a moving archive of contemporary multi-faith vocal practice (Prayer, 2000 - ongoing), and concealed audio speakers in trees so as to surreptitiously broadcast the songs of foreign birds into public space (There’s No Place Called Home, 2005- ongoing). For these he uses sounds charged with context and association, and through processes of ellipsis, displacement and détournement creates situations that probe the dynamics of belief and communication in our world. Webb’s practice employs a variety of media including radio transmissions, live performance, site-specific interventions, and large-scale museum installations, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre.

For the second part of the exhibition series WYHIWYG the Bielefelder Kunstverein premieres the multi-channel sound installation »If you shouted into the night, what do you think the night would shout back in response?« (2017) by South African artist James Webb. The title of the artwork comes from a line in the 2017 radio play „The War Of The Worlds“ (2017) recently created by James Webb and written by Louis Viljoen for the Documenta 14 radio program. The multi-channel sound installation »If you shouted into the night, what do you think the night would shout back in response?« (Duration: 2:40:46) comprises eight separate and synchronised radio transmissions recorded during the 2015 South African State of the Nation address (SoNA) delivered by the president Jacob Zuma on the 12th of February 2015. The audio feeds feature local and national radio stations, including the state broadcaster and independent channels, as well as a so-called “empty” bandwidth of electromagnetic noise.
The SoNA is the annual joint sitting of the South African parliament (National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP)), officiated by the president of the republic with an address to the nation. The 2015 iteration saw major disruptions due to nationwide protests, the contested use of a military signal jammer in parliament, numerous point of order interruptions, the presence of security police, and a large physical fight breaking out before a political party was ejected from the proceedings. It was an event that lead one newspaper to call it "the day our country broke” (Ranjeni Munusamy, Daily Maverick, 13 February 2015, www.dailymaverick.co.za). More generous reports quipped, "This year's State of the Nation Address definitely did not disappoint in providing entertainment for millions of South Africans” (Phumlani Pikoli, EWN, 12 February 2015, www.ewnco.za). .The artwork allows the audience to scrutinise this historical event from the points of view of the different audio feeds. And due to the broadcast delays that radio stations use, the transmission of the SoNA - when heard together in the sound installation - has a delayed echo effect to it that poetically seems to emphasise the political repercussions of the event.

James Webb, born in Kimberley (RSA) in 1975, has been represented in recent years with works in numerous exhibitions and institutions, among them the 9th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art (F, 2007), 55th Biennale di Venezia (I, 2013), and the 12th Bienal de la Habana (Cuba, 2015), and is currently in the 13th Sharjah Biennale (UAE, 2016-17). Most recently, solo exhibitions were on view in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, Galerie Imane Farès in Paris, and at blank projects in Cape Town (all 2016).

Thomas Köner, Illustration zu »Evakuation«, 2016. Courtesy der Künstler

APRIL 29 - MAY 21, 2017

Numerous music projects by the live performer, composer and producer, Thomas Köner, come about on his travels. He records sounds and noises specific to locations all over the world and translates them into melodic compositions and experimental soundscapes by using electronic and analogue devices. In this, his soundscapes function beyond the boundaries of genre. Contrasts in time and space, such as closeness and distance or wontedness and strangeness, combine in his »begehbaren Partituren« (accessible scores) and become a heterophonic resonant space. Köner is concerned with articulating an auditory experience outside of musical conceptions. That is because only tones can manage to produce an interaction between loudspeakers and the consciousness of hearers.

Thomas Köner’s (born in Bochum in 1965) sound and video installations have been shown at, among other places, the 5th International Media Art Biennale in the Seoul Museum of Art (KOR, 2008), Centre Pompidou in Paris (F, 2008, 2009), the Transmediale in Berlin (2009) and in the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago de Chile (CHL, 2010). Alongside his installations, Köner has composed the music for several films and published numerous radio productions and albums since the beginning of the 1990’s, among other things, as part of the band, Porter Ricks.


APRIL 29 - JULY 16, 2017

The WYHIWYG exhibition series is devoted to the possibilities of production and reception of sound. In line with its acronym and motto »What You Hear Is What You Get« WYHIWYG presents acoustic forms of expression with studio quality. The exhibition becomes a resonance space for current electronic music compositions, documentary sound recordings and acoustic analyses of international artists. The whole project will be based on a modular sound system adapted to the architecture. Conversations with the artists will amplify the investigations which will change every four weeks.

Jacob Kirkegaard, Earchestra, 2016. Courtesy der Künstler

JUNE 22 - JULY 16, 2017

The Danish sound artist, Jacob Kirkegaard, is inspired by the limitless variety of acoustic phenomena and records apparently hidden voices and sounds from nature and everyday life. In combination with various media, he traces individual sound elements back to their places of origin and thus creates auditory portraits of these locations. In his sound collages, he layers his recordings and transforms them into multi-layered compositions, which develop narrative impulses. Kirkegaard has worked with recordings of sounds in the human ear in a series of compositions and installations. With that, he does not just make audible what cannot be heard, but he also blurs the boundary between artworks and recipients.

For the third and last part of the exhibition series WYHIWYG the Bielefelder Kuntsverein premieres »Eustachia - For 18 Ears« (2017) by Danish artist Jacob Kirkegaard. »Eustachia – For 18 Ears« is an 8-channel sound work composed from tones generated in the inner ear. These faint but constant acoustic tones, called spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (or SOAE), are produced - without external stimulation - by the ears of only few people. Whereas the combinations of tones emitted from one ear can be dissonant, microtonal and complex, tones emitted from another ear can be harmonious and 'in tune'. Each emitting ear produces something akin to an acoustic fingerprint.
Recorded and amplified by Kirkegaard, this work is based on a selection of 9 people where both ears emit SOAEs simultaneously. With 8 speakers placed in two connected rooms, four speakers reveal the unique emissions from the left ear and the other four speakers the right ear. The audience is invited to experience an otherwise unaccessible microtonal sound emitted from our very ears!

Jacob Kirkegaard was born in Denmark in 1975 and has shown his works in international institutions and at numerous festivals, among others, MoMA in New York (USA, 2013), Mori Art Museum in Tokyo (Japan, 2014), Louisiana - Museum of Modern Art in Humlebæk (DK, 2016) and at ARoS in Aarhus (DK, 2017).

Jacob Kirkegaard, Labyrinthitis, 2007. 16-channel composition / sound installation, 40-minutes, Commissioned by and first performed at the Medical Museion, Copenhagen, Denmark. Limited release of the composition on Touch (2008)