Arsenal: Artists Exploring the Potential of Sound as Weapon, ALMA, London, 2006
Arsenal: Artists Exploring the Potential of Sound as Weapon, ALMA, London, 2006

Arsenal: Artists Exploring the Potential of Sound as Weapon, ALMA, London, 2006

(group exhibition)
Arsenal: Artists exploring the potential of sound as a weapon
curated by Ellen Mara De Wachter

23rd June - 6th August 2006
Preview Friday 23rd June 6pm-9pm

exhibition website

Arsenal: artists exploring the potential of sound as a weapon gathers together eleven artists whose work explores the potential of sound in different ways by highlighting the dangers of beauty, the power of voice and language, the sounds and noises of industry and modern life, discourses around sound and noise, and the latent forces in rhythm and repetition. Some of the works refer to historical moments in which sound has literally been deployed as a military weapon through sheer volume and repetition. Others make subtle use of the medium and allude to its less obvious potential as a weapon. Although the works are very diverse in form and content, they all use sound as an artistic material, manipulating and tailoring it to suit particular needs. The history of recent art reveals a staunch loyalty to the visual; it has been explored in its countless ramifications through photography, film, video, digital art and more classical mediums such as sculpture and painting. Sound has enjoyed less of a starring role, and its potential may still be further realised. The artists in Arsenal combine mediums and materials in various ways, but they have all incorporated sound into their work in effective and affecting ways, engaging with the medium’s potential as a weapon.__The works in Arsenal have been specially commissioned for the exhibition; in some cases they are versions of actions and performances that used sound as a weapon, and which until now only existed as ephemeral performances. In other cases, the artist’s practice was heading in a direction that seemed relevant to the theme of the exhibition, and it made sense to invite them to make a new work for Arsenal. Each artist has been invited to create an image or text especially for this catalogue. These contributions sometimes relate directly to works on display, but have in other cases offered the artists an alternative opportunity to engage with the concepts of the show._

The brutal potential of sound can sometimes defy expectations and manifest itself in muted tones. The soundtrack to allsopp&weir;’s To the Place or Being in the Place (2006) is based on a foreign language-learning cassette for speakers of English. The artists edited together instructions, words and phrases that were spoken in English by the instructor on the tape. Set to languid shots of foliage swaying in the wind and fragments of city living, the words and sentences are repeated by an actor, whose native tongue is not English. An auxiliary soundtrack, played out in the gallery space, features the original phrases as read by the teaching voice. The contrast between the two deliveries evokes the struggle of belonging, which swings between a desire for assimilation and the impossibility of absolute integration. The words are read in rapid-fire succession, and the actor struggles to keep up, sometimes missing out phrases entirely. Sound, through the voice and language, becomes the enemy of identity.

Ellen Mara de Wachter

1st July 6pm
Location: Alma Enterprises
Talks by Rod Dickinson &Thomas; Altheimer followed by the artists in discussion

15th July 6pm
Location: Alma Enterprises
Live performances featuring Mattin, Culver, Alan Courtis & Sakada

A publication is also available to purchase in the gallery or by contacting

Arsenal is guest curated by Ellen Mara De Wachter.

For further information and images contact Siobhan Wootton E:
T: 07913 653910