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Swansong (Schwanengesang) at the Venice Biennale




as part of Always a Little Further curated by Rosa Martínez


The Centre of Attention presents Swansong (Schwanengesang), an installation and webcast with works from Benedict Carpenter, House of O'Dwyer, Damien Roach and Wolfgang Tillmans

Exhibition: 12 June to 6 November 2005 at the Arsenale, Venice, Italy
Vernissage: 9-11 June 2005

For Swansong (Schwanengesang) the gallery space meets the chapel of rest in a work that offers the audience an opportunity to rehearse one's own funeral.

First the participant selects a song for the ceremony, which is webcast from the web; they then lay on a plinth, performing death, while the song is played.

Increasing use of popular songs at funerals means one can make strong statements literally (with lyrics) or atmospherically. Here we contrast the idea of music as shorthand for complex statements and emotional concepts with the banality of the funeral and the service.

Formally with Swansong (Schwanengesang), we wanted to reverse the viewer/art-object dynamic, while allowing also a statement to be generated and examined by the audience itself.

Audience, artist, collaboration; life and death; visual, aural and performance are disrupted and recombined. References to the art genres of still life or nature morte, the vanitas portrait, and the death mask can also be made.

With Swansong (Schwanengesang), the Centre of Attention functions as a pseudopodia reaching tentatively for Venice, with the reminder that you must die.


  Schwanengesang at Mousonturm Frankfurt
  The Centre of Attention swansong 2004
  Swansong at Kuenstlerhaus Mousonturm Frankfurt

All installation photos on this page taken at Mousonturm, Frankfurt. We thank Thomas Frank and all the team at Kuenstlerhaus Mousonturm, Frankfurt, for giving us the opportunity to create Schwanengesang in October 2004. For more information on the Frankfurt piece, visit this page.