James Webb (b. 1975) is based in Cape Town, South Africa.
One of the most unique collaborations in this portfolio is Webb’s print You, the Collector, editioned by Genevieve Wood – who also worked with Cameron Platter on his edition for ArtThrob. Webb’s practice is characterised by a ‘strategic conceptualism’ that rarely involves the production of an actual art object. His sensibility is one that seeks to engage site and audience with both the tangible and intangible, seen and unseen, and this print – although an object – is no exception.
You, the Collector is a rarely seen paper multiple produced in the path of Hurricane Irene at Dieu Donné Papermill in Hells Kitchen, New York City. Embedded in the paper is a traditional relief watermark in Cochin font produced on a Timothy Moore wove papermaking mould, in archival cotton and Philippine Abaca fibre, with titanium white pigment.
The watermark reads: ONCE ALL MULTIPLES IN THIS EDITION HAVE BEEN DESTROYED BY FIRE, EACH COLLECTOR WILL BE RELIEVED OF A SINGLE PAINFUL MEMORY. EXHIBITION OR STORAGE WILL BRING GRAVE MISFORTUNE TO YOU, THE COLLECTOR.
The edition was signed by the artist on the full moon of September in Cape Town when the moon was in the House of Pisces.
James Webb has presented his work around the world at institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, CCA Kitakyushu in Japan, and the Darat al Funun in Amman, Jordan. Major international exhibitions include the 12th Bienal de la Habana, 55th Biennale di Venezia, 3rd Marrakech Biennale, the 2009 Melbourne International Arts Festival and the 9th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon. His work is represented in the collections of the Iziko South African National Gallery, Johannesburg Art Gallery, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum, the Kunstmuseen Krefeld, the Khalid Shoman Foundation, Amman, and Vranken Pommery, Reims.
Webb is an interdisciplinary artist whose work – framed in large-scale installations in galleries and museums, or as unannounced interventions in public spaces – often makes use of ellipsis, displacement and détournement to explore the nature of belief, and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. Webb is known for a practice that employs audio, installation and text, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre.
Recent projects include the solo show, Xenagogue, at the Hordaland Kunstsenter (Bergen, Norway) and the creation of an associative audio guide for the famous Skogskykogården cemetery in Stockholm. Webb participated in Barriers at Wanås Konst, Sweden, in 2015, where he created the sound installation, Prayer (Mälmo), made up of audio recordings of vocal worship from over 50 religions in Mälmo.