Media Partnership / British Council: Venice Architecture Biennale 2018

Dusseldorf’s Kunstakademie present one-day-only raft-themed sound installation


Something exciting is happening in Venice tomorrow, and it sounds pretty interesting to us here at It’s Nice That. Students and professors working in the departments of art history, architecture, fine art and theory at Dusseldorf’s Kunstakademie have been tasked with reconsidering an old abandoned raft.

Way back when, in the early 1800s to be precise, French duo Henry Savigny and Alexandre Corréard found themselves navigating the west coast of Africa, in the Raft of the Medusa. They wrote up their account in Narrative of a Voyage to Senegal in 1816. A sketch of said raft has now been transposed into a musical composition that’ll find itself floating through the rooms of the British Pavilion at Venice Architecture Biennale 2018.

The five professors, 15 students, and one alumnus from the Kunstakademie were inspired to translate the raft into “the more translucent and fluid material of sound” as a direct response to this year’s pavilion theme of Island. The aforementioned sketch is, they say, “the main impetus to reconsider the raft as a relevant analogy to the current global political climate of today.”

Turning a sketch into a sound installation is, as you can likely imagine, a relatively difficult process. In order to make the drawing legible as music, and thus then mutable into sound, the drawing was stretched to the original length of the raft (20m). The lines were then read as musical notes, and that reading was limited to the scaled used in Hans Werner Henze’s opera, The Raft of the Medusa.

Between the hours of 10am – 6pm, the result of this strenuous work will roll out of four large speakers housed in the pavilion. In addition to this, visitors will be presented a collection of historical stories and moments of mythology that are analogous to the tragedy that befell the raft of the Medusa, which are, the organisers say, “supporting the encompassing sound with narrative and visual content.” The supplementary offering will be printed in black and white on grey recycled paper.

The installation lasts for one day only, so if you’re lucky enough to be in Venice this weekend, you know where to go and what to do.