James Webb: We Listen for the Future

1 Oct 2016 – 26 Feb 2017

Cost of entry


Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Wakefield, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • For West Yorkshire timetables call 0113 245 7676, for South Yorkshire timetables call 01709 515151 alternatively, visit www.wymetro.com
  • Wakefield Westgate is the nearest main line station, around 7 miles from YSP. A taxi from the station costs approx £10. London King's Cross to Wakefield takes around 2 hours.

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YSP presents interdisciplinary, South African artist, James Webb. Considered to be a one of the pioneers of sound art, he will showcase We Listen for the Future, an exhibition comprising of four sound pieces.


Born in 1975 in Kimberley, South Africa, Webb is one of the foremost artists of his generation and is known especially for his sound installations. Untitled (with the sound of its own making), 2016, fills the Chapel and references the influential Robert Morris work Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1961. This powerful wall of loudspeakers broadcasts the rhythmic sound of hands beating on doors. It resonates physically and references ancient law of religious sanctuary, as well as the current refugee crisis. In contrast, All that is Unknown, 2016, comprises a pair of speakers separated by the length of a room, playing the sound of heartbeats at the threshold of audibility so that they can only be experienced in close quarters, drawing us into a space that is intimate by association.

In the open air, There’s no place called home, 2004–, is a site-specific element of an on-going project to locate foreign birdsong in non-native environments. It uses a contrasting and mixed audio soundtrack to appear as “real” and “lifelike” as possible. It is especially pertinent in the manmade Bretton Estate of YSP and so near to the home of Charles Waterton at Walton Hall, who was one of the first naturalists and known for introducing the little owl to Britain.

We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far, 2012 introduces to YSP the calls of jackals from partner organisation the NIROX Foundation Trust. NIROX is based in the Cradle of Humankind in South Africa, an area listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site on account of its extraordinary palaeo-anthropological treasures and unique landscape.

Webb’s work often makes use of ellipsis, displacement and détournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. He is acclaimed for his sophisticated practice that employs a variety of media including audio, installation and text, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre. 

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Exhibiting artists

James Webb

Taking part


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