Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies

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THIS IS A VOICE goes on tour to Australia

August 9th, 2017

Work by Sam Belinfante, Academic Fellow in Fine Art and Curatorial Practice, is part of a Wellcome Collection exhibition touring to Sydney this summer.

THIS IS A VOICE looks inside vocal tracts, restless minds and speech devices to capture the elusive nature of the human voice.

The exhibition originally opened at Wellcome Collection in London in April 2016. It moves to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney from 11 August 2017 where it will be remain until the end of January 2018.

This immersive exhibition explores how the unique grain of our voice locates us socially, geographically and psychologically and how the voice is utterly flexible and can be altered with treatment and training.

Celebrating the aural and the oral, THIS IS A VOICE is designed as an acoustic journey of sound and film by contemporary artists and composers, punctuated by paintings, manuscripts, medical illustrations and ethnographic objects.

Blending theatre, video, visuals and sound, featured artists and vocalists include Sam Belinfante, Joan La Barbara, Marcus Coates, Enrico David, Mikhail Karikis, Meredith Monk, Emma Smith and Imogen Stidworthy.

The exhibition is presented in five sections, the second of which ― The strains of the voice ― investigates the mechanics and physiology of voice production and how the voice can be changed following disorder, trauma or training. In Focus (2012) by Sam Belinfante, vocalist Elaine Mitchener is shown exercising her voice before a performance revealing the ways that different physical techniques dramatically affect her sound. An excerpt from Focus can be viewed here.

Sam Belinfante joined the School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies as a University Academic Fellow in September 2015. Having gained his first degree in Fine Art at Leeds, followed by a Masters at The Slade (UCL), Sam returned to Leeds to undertake a practice-led PhD.

Artist, cellist and vocalist, Sam’s audio-visual films, scores, compositions and installations have earned him international recognition within the contemporary art world. He recently curated The Fold in the School’s new Project Space, a programme of exhibitions by artists connected to the Fine Art PhD (past and present) that interrogated both theory/practice and audio/visual relationships in contemporary art practice.

Sam Belinfante said:

“For Focus I worked with the phenomenal vocalist Elaine Mitchener. Our collaboration grew out of a shared interest in ‘exercise’ as both a device to practise and test techniques and a repetitive activity that requires great physical effort.

“As an artist new to analogue film, I explored the limits and idiosyncrasies of my camera in a series of choreographed moves paced by each wind of the machine. Paralleling these movements, Mitchener engages in an intensive workout routine that has dramatic effects on her own (vocal) instruments.

THIS IS A VOICE is a Wellcome Collection exhibition produced in collaboration with the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS).

Full details about the exhibition can be found here.

Image: Sam Belinfante, Focus (2012)

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