Katriona Beales Hope as an Act of Resistance – a sonic monument

22 – 24 Sep 2023
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

A new work commissioned by Sotheby’s Institute of Art, which premiers at the V&A’s Digital Design Weekend 2023.

Katriona presents us with a white noise relaxation room and living sonic monument of collective hopes. Her piece wraps us in a mesmerizing sound bath. Inspired by ASMR and previous moving image works using whispered voiceovers, the soothing sound builds up as a result of hundreds of anonymised personal hopes from many voices, the contributed whispers of people engaging with the installation. Playing underneath the vocal hum is a melodic foundational soundtrack which creates a relaxing sound bed for the experience. Large bespoke velvet beanbags, specially made and covered in art by Katriona, invite people to relax and spend time with the sound monument.

Inspiration for the first part of the artwork’s title ‘Hope as an Act of Resistance’ comes from a quote from Rebecca Solnit’s book Hope in the Dark. Solnit writes, “I believe in hope as an act of defiance, or rather as the foundation for an ongoing series of acts of defiance, those acts necessary to bring about some of what we hope for while we live by principle in the meantime. There is no alternative, except surrender. And surrender not only abandons the future, it abandons the soul.”

Visitors entering the space are given an artist-designed postcard with the phrase ‘I HOPE…’ and a pencil to write their thoughts down. When they are ready, they are invited into a small recording booth to quietly contribute their own whispered hopes. These hopes then join the sonic monument in real-time.

Katriona’s reimagined monument celebrates different perspectives and the complexities of people’s lives as well as their commonalities. As a powerful act of collective imagination, it offers a window into our collective consciousness at this moment in time.