Judith Deschamp's installation depicts the ritual which, from 1736 to 1746, linked the Italian singer and castrato Farinelli to Spanish King Philip V. Throughout these years, Farinelli was enlisted every night to sing for the King, with the aim of alleviating the melancholy that besieged him. The King’s favorite aria was Quell'usignolo che innamorato by Geminiano Giacomell, its melody imitating the sound of the nightingale.
Hailing from a time in where grooming castrato singers was common-practice, Farinelli’s voice was unique in being able to cover three octaves, and was frequently compared to that of an angel. In more recent years, many have sought to recreate Farinelli’s elusive voice. Following some of these strategies, Judith Deschamps merges voices of countertenor and soprano singers, and uses artificial intelligence. Able to reproduce a range of voices from pre-existing audio, and make it ‘sing', the algorithm the artist engages reflects the body-instrument of Farinelli, capable of generating sounds that a human no longer is capable of producing.
In transposing this story today, the artist seeks to highlight the strong (and at times desperate) faith placed in technology today. The existence and the popularity of the ageless and angelic castrato voices were deeply linked to the fear of the body, its decay, the finitude of the human condition. It is this link that Judith Deschamps is interested in, and the parallel that could be made between these voices and the fascination for technological prowess today.
School of Arts & Humanities
MA Contemporary Art Practice, 2018
French artist Judith Deschamps creates performances and installations that examine the history of our body and identities. By transposing personal or collective narratives into her work, she seeks to highlight the process with which an organism forms and is transformed. The reconstruction of layers as much as the loss of historical data, give rise in the work of Judith Deschamps to hybrid objects, reflecting the complexity and the buried areas of our identities.
- MA Fine Art, Haute École des Arts du Rhin, 2011; BA Set Design, Haute École des Arts du Rhin, 2009
- Residency, Mains d'Œuvres Art Centre, St Ouen, France, 2015–2016.
- The Serving Library, Liverpool, 2018; Invitation Without Exhibition, Martine Aboucaya Gallery, Paris, 2017; Golem!, Museum of Jewish Art and History, Paris, 2017; Metamorphosis, Fondation Ricard, Paris, 2016; Nouveau Festival, Pompidou Centre, Paris, 2015
- Initiales n°5 - AF (Andrea Fraser), ENSBA / Les presses du réel