What relevance does the international history and practice of slavery have on our society and culture today?
This is the research question I aim to address and present at the unique international forum of visual art that is the Venice Biennale.
Venice and Scotland has a long history of trade in people for slavery. It is a muted part of our contemporary social and cultural lives. How can we be made more aware of such a history and how does such a history influence the way that we function today?
Can an art work be the method of communication for such a question?
Working collaboratively with the composer Sally Beamish, the Scottish Ensemble, the music producer Adrian Sherwood and vocalist Ghetto Priest, I aim to create a unique five channel audio video installation of The Slave’s Lament, which first published by Robert Burns in 1792.
Four of the channels have sound and vision of a cello, double bass, violin and vocals, with the fifth channel contributing sound only.
This work will be installed in the main room of the Palazzo Fontana, overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.
Scotland + Venice is a partnership between Creative Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the British Council. Its aim is to promote new work at the Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious visual art festivals.
Graham Fagen will represent Scotland at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, in a solo presentation commissioned and curated by Hospitalfield, Arbroath.
The partners describe Graham Fagen as one of the UK’s foremost contemporary artists. His work mixes media and crosses continents; combining video, performance, photography, and sculpture with text and music. His recurring artistic themes include plants, journeys, poetry and popular song as a means to focus on personal and shared experience and identity. His works offer a clear-sighted perspective on the powerful forces that shape our lives.