Singing rocks at Cape Town Art Fair

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Continuing to surprise art audiences, Jenna Burchell’s latest sound installation literally sings - haunting songs of ancient place and time.
Continuing to surprise art audiences, Jenna Burchell’s latest sound installation literally sings – haunting songs of ancient place and time.

Created through a research residency at Nirox, the first works in this series were exhibited at the Winter Sculpture Fair and Joburg Art Fair in 2016. Now, especially for the Cape Town Art Fair, Burchell has created new works, the final pieces in the Cradle of Humankind series.

“We expect audiences here to love them just as much; they demonstrate the artist’s technical skill and unique ability to connect and affect,” says gallerist Tamzin Lovell Miller.

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Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) repairs ancient, fractured rocks following a method based on the Japanese art and philosophy of Kintsukuroi. By combining this golden repair with technology and sound, songsmith resonate when touched. This allows each rock to sing of the land wherein it has existed for millennium. Their song is generated from the raw electro-magnetic readings captured from beneath each rock’s original resting place in the Cradle of Humankind. Each songsmith acts as a time capsule of a place in time, connecting the present with the site’s ancient history as the birthplace of mankind.

Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) is part one of a three-part series that records a triangle of ancient events that occurred in South Africa. This triad of events bear global significance to life, as we know it, on earth. The Songsmith (Cradle of Humankind) collection consists of ten unique sound sculptures.

Jenna Burchell is an anti-disciplinary South African artist. Her practice weaves together various forms of technology, science, anthropology, sound, and art. Burchell builds responsive sculptural objects and large-scale interactive environments for exhibition visitors to play with. People call them ‘memory harps’ or ‘empathy machines’. She creates them to bring people, communities, and places around the world together. Burchell’s work explores the integration of emotive intelligence and technology as she believes that the combination of these elements has the potential to inspire the future of human experience.

Burchell’s practice is rare and pioneering. It has consistently surprised audiences and generated excited dialogue and conversation amongst seeming strangers. The artist doesn’t give away any secrets on how she made these rocks sing, but it sure has us wondering how did she do it?

Jenna Burchell is represented by Sulger-Buel Lovell Gallery in Cape Town and London. She will be present to talk about her work at the galleries booth C6 at the CTICC.

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