Artist Katriona Beales selected to create a new commission in response to Sotheby’s Institute of Art MA students Reimagining the Monument project. Hope as an Act of Resistance – a Sonic Monument by Katriona Beales will premiere at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington in September 2023 as part of Digital Design Weekend.
Hope as an Act of Resistance – a Sonic Monument by Katriona Beales is a participatory sound artwork that builds a sonic monument out of people’s whispered hopes. This new commission will enable unexpected interactions between strangers and friends through the shared experience of sound, physical space, and the collective activity of contributing and contemplating hope.
Katriona responded to a brief created by MA students who invited three artists to conceive a participatory project which considers how we might reconsider what and how we monumentalise in our culture. Katriona’s idea developed out of her reflections on hope as essential in the face of struggle, a quality that feels vital in our post-pandemic, economically challenged world in the midst of a climate emergency.
Hannah Redler-Hawes, a contemporary art curator working with the students to deliver the project said “Katriona Beales’ project was selected for her recognition of the monumental in discrete everyday moments, her careful consideration of what exchange means in a participatory context, and how people might be asked to contribute to a collective experience in the digital realm in a way that protects and cares for the individual.”
Inspiration for the first part of the artwork's title 'Hope as an Act of Resistance’ comes from a quote from Rebecca Solnit's book Hope in the Dark. Solnit writes, “I believe in hope as an act of defiance, or rather as the foundation for an ongoing series of acts of defiance, those acts necessary to bring about some of what we hope for while we live by principle in the meantime. There is no alternative, except surrender. And surrender not only abandons the future, it abandons the soul.”
Katriona presents us with a white noise relaxation room and living sonic monument of collective hopes. Her piece wraps us in a mesmerizing sound bath. Inspired by ASMR and previous moving image works using whispered voiceovers, the soothing sound builds up as a result of hundreds of anonymised personal hopes from many voices, the contributed whispers of people engaging with the installation. Playing underneath the vocal hum is a melodic foundational soundtrack which creates a relaxing sound bed for the experience. Large bespoke velvet beanbags, specially made and covered in art by Katriona, invite people to relax and spend time with the sound monument.
Visitors entering the space are given an artist-designed postcard with the phrase ‘I HOPE…’ and a pencil to write their thoughts down. When they are ready, they are invited into a small recording booth to quietly contribute their own whispered hopes. These hopes then join the sonic monument in real-time.
Katriona’s reimagined monument celebrates different perspectives and the complexities of people's lives as well as their commonalities. It weaves deeply personal offerings with individual perspectives on the impact of our current socio-political and world events. As a powerful act of collective imagination, it offers a window into our collective consciousness at this moment in time. In exchange for contributing, people receive the opportunity to contemplate, rest, and reflect in this sonic monument constructed with others.
Hope as an Act of Resistance – a Sonic Monument by Katriona Beales has been commissioned by MA students from Sotheby’s Institute of Art working with professional experts including independent curator Hannah Redler-Hawes, art historian Dr Barbara Lasic, and arts professional Rachel McHale. The project was initiated by Institute faculty, Dr Juliet Hacking and Dr Amy Mechwoski.
Images from Beales’ previous work: Still from Solace from the Wasteland I (2020), Still from Into a room that wasn't there before (2022-23) Katriona Beales
About Katriona Beales
Katriona Beales is an internationally exhibited artist whose work responds to the social implications of new technologies and affective experiences in post-digital culture. Katriona’s interdisciplinary project Are We All Addicts Now? supported by The Wellcome Trust and ACE, was shown at Furtherfield (2017). Recent work includes new commissions for: the Victoria and Albert Museum and Science Gallery London (both 2018); IMPAKT Netherlands and a participatory green-screen installation at Autograph (both 2020). Recent exhibitions include the group shows at Camberwell Space, London; Estacion Terrena, Bogota; ArsSpace, Seoul and the Ludwig Museum, Budapest; (all 2022). Katriona has an MA from Chelsea College of Arts supported by a Stanley Picker Bursary and an artist profile on Rhizome.org. In 2022 she undertook an experimental online residency with Anna Bunting-Branch, at the NHS' only Centre treating Gaming Disorders, supported by an ACE project grant and in 2023 is working on developing some new work thanks to an ACE DYCP grant. She is one of the 3 founding members of Artists' Union England.