James Webb

His work, framed in large-scale installations in galleries and museums, or as unannounced interventions in public spaces, often makes use of ellipsis, displacement and détournement to explore the nature of belief and the dynamics of communication in our contemporary world. Webb’s practice employs a variety of media including audio, installation and text, referencing aspects of the conceptualist and minimalist traditions, as well as his academic studies in advertising, comparative religion and theatre.

In 2005, as part of his worldwide ‘There is No Place Called Home’ project, Webb broadcast the calls of South African carnivorous birds from speakers hidden in trees along the concrete banks of the Pearl River in Guangzhou. In 2006, he applied the same technique to Joubert Park, this time using the calls of restricted-range or non-migratory birds from China and Nigeria. If asked which nationalities are known for “wandering”, most residents of Johannesburg would probably answer: Chinese and Nigerians. But Webb’s point is clear – in the twenty-first century, notions of “home” and “belonging” are moribund and potentially dangerous concepts.