This year Norway will be solely responsible for the Nordic Pavilion in the Giardini at the Venice Biennale for the first time in its history. For this unprecedented occasion, the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) has commissioned artist Camille Norment (born 1970) to develop the project.
Norment’s „Rapture“ is a site-specific, sculptural and sonic installation in the Nordic Pavilion, for which the American-born, Oslo-based artist has composed new music on the glass armonica – a legendary 18th-century instrument that creates ethereal music from glass and water.
Invented by Benjamin Franklin and once played by Mozart and Marie Antoinette, the glass armonica was at first celebrated for curing people with its entrancing music, but later it was banned because it was thought to induce states of ecstasy and arouse sexual excitement in women. If it had the power to cure, so the logic went, this bewitching instrument might also have the power to kill through over-exciting its listeners.
In a contemporary context, Norment explores the tensions this music raises today by creating a multi-sensory space, which reflects upon the history of sound, contemporary concepts of consonance and dissonance, and the water, glass and light of Venice.
The artist composes a chorus of voices that correspond to the unresolved notes of the much censored „devils’s“ tritone and of the glass armonica, and this chorus immerses visitors to „Rapture“.
„Rapture“ explores the relationship between the human body and sound, through visual, sonic, sculptural and architectural stimuli. Today the sonic realm can be both a space of misuse, as we have seen in the militaristic use of sound to abuse the body, and of affirmation, as in the performative utterance of free speech to affirm the right of the body’s very existence. The body can be stimulated and moved by sound, and in Norment’s work, the Nordic Pavilion itself becomes a body in rapture and rupture, consonance and dissonance.Biennale di Venezia, Italy till November 22, 2015