Let faith be your umbrella

Post from Alex Tryon


[Editor’s note: This is an excerpt of Tryon’s post about a single piece in the Slought show “Back to Front: Emerging Artists,” other posts here and here.]

In Ben Volta’s video, “Airplane Hymn,” a woman in a white dress stands motionless, holding a clear umbrella over her head. Paper airplanes begin to fly in slow motion toward the woman, yet she remains unharmed. The sound is warped so each paper airplane hits the ground with intense volume. Some 3,500 airplanes, courtesy of collaborating artist Billy Blaise Dufala, are launched off the balcony.

Above the woman’s head is a sculpture of pages from the Bible folded into origami. The woman, Lois Volta, is singing. Conversation from the artist explains: “During the launch I asked my sister Lois to stand with an umbrella and sing an old hymn ‘It is Well with My Soul.’” This song, unheard except in the faintest of undertones, gives the woman a new sense of power.

Singing a famous hymn of peace within one’s soul and beaming as a symbol of tranquility, the woman does not shy away from the threats and challenges that reach her.

–Alex Tryon is a student in Colette Copeland’s art writing class at the University of Pennsylvania