James: Getting Lost & Finding Ways

Blog
December 8, 2017
Posted by Wanjiru Koinange

After an intense succession of successful exhibitions across the globe, South African based James Webb applied for a residency with Africa Centre in 2016, and received the award to The Fountainhead residency in Miami, USA. “Getting lost and finding ways of access are pivotal elements in my creativity.” His interdisciplinary work, which  combines art, music, theatre, and cinema resulted in the development of artworks such as “Autohagiography (2007),” where he recorded himself speaking while under hypnosis, and “The Autumn Project (2005),” where he accepted all invitations extended toward him for three months; projects that speak to his desire to surrender to the unknown. Itching for newness am hungry for a challenge, Webb sought after an international residency eager to re-think, revitalise and reimagine his work and processes.

Well matched with his residency location, in the three weeks James Webb spent in Miami in October 2017. His simple expectations of a bed, electricity plug, occasional internet access, and a taste for the unknown, were met. In reporting on his residency, Webb recalls an enjoyable and productive adventure. He viewed it as a chance to initiate fresh work, scrutinise old work, and advance unfinished ideas that could only be done while in residence, away from the routines at home. Webb hoped to gear his residency time towards creating a performative, walking lecture tour of the residency space and its surrounding locale. This would incorporate actual and fictional observations of the site, location audio recordings, interventions planted in and within the area, – all incorporated as an associative and occasionally abstract narration of the moment.

In reflecting on his time in at The Fountainhead residency, Webb had this to say; “Based on my research and better understanding of the country and region, I believe that Miami would be an exciting and valuable context for me to stage my Prayer installation (link above). Prayer is a research-based and relational multi-channel sound installation comprising audio recordings of vocal worship collected from all the religions in the host city. A city like Miami would be an ideal location for a work like this, and I hope that this possibility can become a reality one day.”

Some his existing work can be viewed on his website, and in the near future no doubt, new projects: installations and collaborations resulting from the lasting impression his residency made on his approach to creating art, and exploring the unknown.