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La Biennale di Venezia –Sophy Rickett


Sophy Rickett’s new project To The River premieres in the New Forest Pavillion at Palazzo Zenobio as an official collateral event for the 54th International Art Exhibition, La Biennale di Venezia.

To The River is a three-screen video installation with nine channels of sound – commissioned and produced by Elena Hill with Arnolfini and Artsway – that explores people’s delicate relationship to a natural observable phenomena, such as the Severn Bore: one of Britain’s few truly spectacular events. As the tide rises in the Bristol channel a tidal wave forms and runs backwards at night – from the estuary to the source – through the landscape of rural Glouchestershire.

A few weeks before the vernal equinox of 2010, and in anticipation of the biggest predicted bore for several years, Sophy Rickett set up a rig of spotlights on the banksides of the River Severn where, over a period of several nights, she filmed and recorded a small group of people gathered in the dark in excited expectation of the Severn Bore.

In To The River the crowd’s anticipation is set against the actual moment of a bore wave passing, followed by the inevitable sense of emptiness that seems to rush in to fill its place once it’s gone. The water heavily anticipated by a roar arrives slowly at first but then gathers momentum so that it passes the locals converged at great speed, almost too quickly, most likely leaving them with a “is that all it is?” feeling.

The watchers play a central part. Rickett, in fact, shifts her attention from the event to the spectators, and allows the main event to be heard and never seen. Her sound recordings take on a magical role in the disjunction between sight and sound. It’s the sound that tells the story. The photographer addresses not only the social and political aspects of the bore but also its philosophical and cultural implications.

A publication, also entitled To The River, featuring texts by Sacha Craddock and Barry Schwabsky accompanies the exhibition. This publication, edited by Elena Hill and published by Arnolfini and Brancolini Grimaldi, elaborates upon some of the themes introduced by the installation, and includes HD video stills, transcripts of sound, research material and a short autobiographical text by the artist.

Elisa Badii

>ArtSway’s New Forest Pavilion
54th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia
Palazzo Zenobio
Fondamenta Del Soccorso
Dorsoduro 2596, Venice
4th-26th June 2011
Tuesday-Sunday / 10.00 a.m.-6.00 p.m.

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