PAUL BENNEY
'SPEAKING IN TONGUES AT THE VENICE BIENNALE'

11/5 - 26/11/2017

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EXHIBITION INTRODUCTION


Paul Benney’s epic painting, ‘Speaking in Tongues’, together with an extraordinary holophonic sound installation, will be presented during the 2017 Venice Art Biennale, in the church of San Gallo, just a few steps from St Mark’s Square, Venice, Italy.

In this work, Benney brings together twelve of his contemporaries to individually express a spiritual awakening—a state of grace. He seeks to demonstrate that a singular piece of art can promote an understanding between disparate ideologies and engagement in a shared spiritual dialogue. ‘Speaking in Tongues’ resonates powerfully with the underlying theme of the 57th Venice Biennale, which the Chief Curator, Christine Macel, has titled ‘Viva Arte Viva’, and its emphasis on reflection, spirituality, and humanism.

At first and from afar the viewer encounters a quiet murmuring reminiscent of prayer or confession. As the visitor moves around the exhibition space the murmuring is interrupted; through the use of holophonic sound focusing technology, by the clearly discernible monologue of each subject; the effect being as though the individual voices are uncannily experienced as aural hallucinations.

The ‘Reliquary’ series, consisting of two tryptics, will appear alongside ‘Speaking In Tongues’ and form an important part of this installation. They re-emphasize the spiritual metaphor of the flame as a representation of the human spirit.


Curated by James Putnam, Co-curated by Flora Fairbairn
at Chiesa di San Gallo, 30124 Venezia, Italy

 
 
 
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EXHIBITION VIDEO TOUR

 
 

 
 

SPEAKING IN TONGUES -EDITIONS


Anima-Mundi is delighted to bring elements of the Biennale back to St Ives with an exhibition of unique silver print editions of Benney’s epic paintings.

To mark this occasion closer to home, Anima-Mundi has dedicated two rooms of it’s imposing three-story building to this exhibition featuring a spectacular 20-panel reproduction of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ alongside newly produced silver print editions of the ‘Reliquary’ paintings shown alongside elements of the sound installation.


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Echoing the immersive qualities of Chiesa di San Gallo; low-lit, contemplative spaces at Anima-Mundi will give visitors who can’t make it to Venice a chance to consider Benney’s extraordinary work alongside the artists' assertion that "art can promote an understanding between disparate ideologies and engagement in a shared spiritual dialogue.”

‘Speaking in Tongues’ (the original painting and holophonic sound installation) has been acquired as part of a public collection in the USA, so this release of archival quality silver prints gives collectors an opportunity to invest in this prominent exhibition, as highlighted by Catherine Milner in the Financial Times 'How To Spend It' feature in her noteworthy picks from the Biennale: In a church just off St Mark’s, British artist Paul Benney has created remarkable painting-cum-audio-installation 'Speaking in Tongues', which depicts twelve of the artists contemporaries describing significant spiritual moments in their lives. He seeks to demonstrate that a singular piece of art can promote an understanding between disparate ideologies and engagement in a shared spiritual dialogue. At first and from afar the viewer encounters a quiet murmuring reminiscent of prayer or confession. As the visitor moves around the exhibition space the murmuring is interrupted; through the use of holophonic sound focusing technology, by the clearly discernible monologue of each subject; the effect being as though the individual voices are uncannily experienced as aural hallucinations.

The ‘Reliquary’ series, consisting of two tryptics, will appear alongside ‘Speaking In Tongues’ and form an important part of this installation. They re-emphasize the spiritual metaphor of the flame as a representation of the human spirit.


 
 

BIOGRAPHY
 

Abbie Trayler-Smith is Welsh contemporary artist born in 1978. She currently lives and works in London. Trayler-Smith is a self-taught documentary and portrait photographer whose intimate reportage reveals a deep-rooted, emotional engagement to her subjects. Trayler-Smith’s multi award-winning photographs often capture the anguish, humility and extraordinary courage of her subjects. At the heart of each image lies the deeply human story, one fought out against a turbulent backdrop of social degradation or the aftermath of conflict. Trayler-Smith reveals an intense, personal connection to each and every subject, sensitively captured through her lens.

Extensive travels as a documentary photographer have exposed Trayler-Smith to some of the world’s most troubled and turbulent places, where lives are turned upside down and ravaged by war and famine. Closer to home, her award-winning collection of portraits ‘The Big O’ presents a study of the young people behind the troubling obesity statistics, revealing the damaging psychological effects of a society obsessed with ‘perfection’. Trayler-Smith spent eight years as a photographer with The Daily Telegraph, covering significant world events such as the Darfur Conflict, the Iraq War and the Asian tsunami, before pursuing a freelance career in 2007. Current clients include: Time, The Sunday Times, The Independent Review, Marie-Claire, Tatler, Monocle, Vice, Oxfam, Save The Children, IRC, UNICEF, Sony and BBC worldwide. Trayler-Smith joined Panos Pictures in 2008 and the following year she presented her first major solo exhibition, ‘Still Human Still Here’, at HOST Gallery in London. Trayler-Smith’s portrait of Chelsea from the childhood obesity project, ‘The Big O’, won 4th prize in The National Portrait Gallery’s 2010 Taylor Wessing Prize. In 2014, Trayler-Smith received the World Press Photo Award (Staged Portraits) for the image of Shannon from ‘The Big O’ and won the Ideastap Magnum Photographic Award. In 2017 Trayler-Smith was awarded the Peoples Prize in the Taylor Wessing Prize for her portrait ‘Fleeing Mosul’. Abbie Trayler-Smith is represented by Anima-Mundi.

 

 
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