Shooting Star Samson Young to Represent Hong Kong at the 2017 Venice Biennale

There will be a lot of sound art at Venice next year.

Signal Path II: Sinister Resonance by Samson Young. Photo: Courtesy Samson Young.
Signal Path II: Sinister Resonance by Samson Young. Photo: Courtesy Samson Young.

Sound artist Samson Young will represent Hong Kong at the 2017 Venice Biennale, the Arts Development Council and the M+ Museum of Visual Culture announced today. Independent curator Ying Kwok will curate the pavilion, and Doryun Chong, the acting director and chief curator of M+ will serve as consulting curator.

This will be the third time that the ADC and M+ will work together to present Hong Kong’s contribution to the world’s biggest contemporary art event.

Trained as a musician, Young’s art career has been on a meteoric rise since he won the inaugural edition of the Art Basel-BMW Art Journey Award in 2015. This year, the 37-year-old artist was chosen to be one of seven artists to join the Container Artist Residency, which takes a group of selected artists on a world tour aboard a container ship, where they produce artworks.

Samson Young, <i>Canon</i> (2016) performed at Art Unlimited at Art Basel 2016. Courtesy of Team Gallery

Samson Young, Canon (2016) performed at Art Unlimited at Art Basel 2016. Courtesy of Team Gallery.

The Hong Kong-based artist’s project, “For Whom the Bell Tolls: A Journey Into the Sonic History of Conflict,” which he created after winning the Art Basel BMW award, focused on bells and their status as both a symbol of peace and strife. His went on a journey to multiple cities in five continents to study and record various historically significant bells.

This past June, he drew viewers’ attention as well as critical acclaim at Art Basel Unlimited with a work in a similar vein. Atop a booth-sized cube, the artist performed in police uniform with the sonic weapon used to disperse crowds at demonstrations, called the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). At maximum volume, it can induce permanent hearing damage. However, the technology is also used to repel birds from private properties, and Young performed a series of distressed bird calls to a mesmerized audience.

Young won’t be the only artist working with sound at the 57th Venice Biennale. The artist, musician, and academic Cevdet Erek, whose installations and performances focus on sound, space, and rhythm, will represent his native Turkey in 2017, the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Art (İKSV), which commissions the pavilion, announced back in April.

France, on the other hand, has selected artist Xavier Veilhan, who plans to transform the French pavilion into a Kurt Schwitters inspired music studio. And Iceland has selected Egill Sæbjörnsson, a visual artist, performer, musician, and composer living and working in Berlin and Reykjavik.

The 57th Venice Biennale runs from May 13 to November 26, 2017.


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