With The Fool’s Ballad (Ballade du fou), Zahra Poonawala gives a new opportunity to travel both inside and in the company of a sound. The installation is a continuation of previous works which already presented sound not as an impenetrable surface but as a volume to be travelled in. These works, like TUTTI, were also based on a dialogue between spectator and sounds/objects. The result was a heightened awareness of the plasticity of sound, of its living character.
In The Fool’s Ballad, the sound configurations evolve according to the physical relationships between the viewer and the installation. At the approach of the spectator, a ceramic loudspeaker comes alive and emits a song, that of a soprano, while at the same time rotating along with the visitor’s movements. By approaching or moving away, the spectator modifies the song: the soprano is “influenced”, becoming sometimes shy, sometimes inhabited, revealing a palette of nuances and different regional accents. The composition of this ballad was given to Gaëtan Gromer. The classic, original lied reveals unsuspected facets.
Interactive sound installation, 2016
Concept: Zahra Poonawala / Composition: Gaëtan Gromer / Soprano: Juliette de Massy / Studio recording: Benjamin Moreau / Poems: Feliz Molina / Adaptation of the poems: Zahra Poonawala / IT and detection: David Lemaréchal / Robotics and construction: Jean-Marc Delannoy / Music IT: Gaëtan Gromer / Advice on ceramics: Solène Dumas et Artelineha / With the support of Drac Grand Est and Pro Helvetia, Fondation suisse pour la culture
Production and distribution circuits traditionally tend to separate visual art spaces from those linked to music. Zahra Poonawala, on the contrary, tries to marry the sensations and find a mode of expression connected to her dual background as artist and musician. She questions the birth of harmony, this spark that turns a sound into an object of spatial experience, with its density, its presence, or its absence, through sound installations, performances, and videos. She also regularly collaborates with contemporary composers and new media programmers.
Zahra Poonawala graduated from the Haute École des Arts du Rhin (HEAR) in 2007 in the “Off Formats” Art section. In 2010, she joined the Fresnoy National Contemporary Arts Studio in Tourcoing and graduated with honours for her interactive sound installation TUTTI in 2012.
Her creations have earned her numerous recognitions in the form of support for creation, prizes, and international residences.