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NOTHING HERE DOES NOT HEAR YOU

JAMES WEBB

“Nothing here does not hear you” is an installation created from research made into the space formerly known as the 1820 Settlers Monument in Makhanda. The process began when a group of individuals were invited to take a walk through the building and its environs to discuss the situation. The guests included historians, cultural workers, political activists, and sangomas, as well as members of the building’s maintenance and technical staff.

All the interviewees spoke in different ways of blockages, barriers, clots, stuck places, and obstacles. The area was spoken of as an energy that needs to be listened and attended to: the Monument has to be rethought, opened up, and become many monuments.

The recorded interviews were shared with a writer who developed a series of texts that could, when spoken, work as blessings. These ideas seek to form a manifesto of spiritual intent: an opening of channels, a putting to rest the uneasiness, a calling for creativity and wisdom, and a token of gratitude. The text is vocalised in soft voices, reminiscent of lullabies, ASMR, and mantra, and in whispers, referencing stage prompts as well as the transmission of special knowledge.

When broadcast in the space these voices might be thought of as working towards a subtle, sonic reorientation of the building. The audio is diffused through transducers attached to the windows of the room, turning the glass into speakers, and allowing for the sound to be linked with the view of the land.

This artwork is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Maart who worked in the building and contributed to the project.

VENUE

The Bridge, 1820 Settlers Monument

 

DURATION

23  June – 3 July

 

CREDITS

Interviewers: Dr. Dominique Santos, James Webb

Site readers: Ayanda Kota, Brendon Wessels, Joseph Maart, Juanita Praeg, Prof. Julie Wells, Mbali Marais, Nicci Spalding, Nosipho Matini, Rev. Thebe Albert Shale, and Xolile “X” Madinda

Interview and location sound recordist: Kuhle Ngqezana

Writer: Louis Viljoen

Voices: Nombasa Maqoko, Dr. Hleze Kunju

Recorded at ILAM by Elijah Madiba

Installation: Nicci Spalding, Darren Wolhuter, Armand Steenkamp, Benjamin Muir-Mills

Photography: Gemma Garman

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

James Webb is a conceptual artist, working with site-specific interventions and installations. His practice often involves sound, found objects, and text, invoking references to literature, cinema, and the minimalist traditions. By shifting objects, techniques, and forms beyond their original contexts and introducing them to different environments, Webb creates new spaces of tension. These spaces bind Webb’s academic background in religion, theatre, and advertising, offering poetic inquiries into the economies of belief and dynamics of communication in our contemporary world.

Group exhibitions include the 8th and 16th Biennale de Lyon (2007 & 2022), 13th Biennial of Dakar (2018), 4th Prospect Triennial of New Orleans (2017), Documenta 14 (2017), 13th Biennial of Sharjah (2017), 12th Bienal de la Habana (2015), 55th Biennale di Venezia (2013), and 3rd Marrakech Biennale (2009).

 

Dr. Hleze Kunju is a lecturer, speaker, researcher, author, actor, poet, and musician. He wrote Rhodes University’s first isiXhosa PhD thesis and received The Most Outstanding PhD Thesis Award by the African Language Association of Southern Africa.

 

Nombasa Maqoko is an Eastern Cape born, Makhanda based, singer / songwriter, performer, and podcaster. She is an academic with a degree in Ethnomusicology with Rhodes University. Her new EP, Nombasa, is being performed at this year’s festival in her concerts at the Thomas Pringle Hall.

 

Dr Dominique Santos’s work explores the intersections of music, play, dreaming, and heritage practices with intimate experiences of the self, space and social change. Her anthropological trajectory has been informed by a commitment to ‘unsettle the coloniality of being’, connecting the university as a public and intellectual space with the wider community and natural world it is part of.

 

Louis Viljoen is a Cape Town based playwright and director. He has written and produced numerous plays including, The Frontiersmen, Champ, Porno 88, The Kingmakers, The Pervert Laura, Oh Baby, I’m A Wild One, The Emissary, and The Eulogists. He is one of the creators (along with playwrights, Nicholas Spagnoletti and Jon Keevy) of the successful short-play initiative Anthology which has had four successful seasons at The Alexander Bar’s Upstairs Theatre.