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Laura Böök 

The Group That Cannot Sing

August 2020 

Böök’s video installation is an extended portrait and an “out of tune” choral work. The piece is made in collaboration with sound designer Niklas Nybom. In the gallery, the viewer encounters singers from a singing course, who are first preparing for a show with vocal warm-ups and later sing together. ‘The group that cannot sing’ is a popular singing course at Kalliola, a community college in Helsinki, which invites its participants to get to know their voice and discover the joy of singing. Böök participated in the group’s activities for one year, as an unskilled singer.

Instead of documenting the singing lessons, Böök invited the participants to perform in a separate studio space. In the resulting piece, singing in front of the camera is both a real and staged situation, where the presence of the camera brings its own layers to the feelings of anxiety and the overcoming one’s fears. The work offers a break from the constant pressure to present an effortlessly perfect self. At the heart of the video-portraits are the breathing and sound exercises, exposing the raw and fragile vocals which are typically rehearsed behind the scenes. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the liberating potential of flaws, failure and imperfection.

The video works and their dramaturgy is heavily based on Nybom’s soundscapes. In a parallel context the work draws on the tradition of portraiture while expanding it. By depicting singers, Böök explores the tensions between conscious posing and unconscious body language. These tensions are present in everyday life but are especially amplified in cinematic situations.

Laura Böök’s artistic work moves between visual art and film. Böök explores the relationship between documentary and staged images, the strangeness of ordinariness, and the fear of failure. Böök will graduate with a master’s degree in photography from Aalto University in Helsinki in 2020, where she has also studied documentary film. In 2014, Böök completed her BA (Honours) in Documentary Photography from the University of South Wales. She has participated in several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad.

See more:

Director: Laura Böök | Cinematography: Laura Böök, Tomi Rislakki | Editing: Laura Böök | Sound design: Niklas Nybom | Choir leader: Ida Boucht | Singers: Saija Aalto, Hannele Forssell, Krista Heikkilä, Susanna Jaromaa, Tuula Leskelä, Kirsi Mäenpää, Pirkko Ogata, Outi Paulus, Marja Parviala and Sanni Virtanen.

Photo credit: Laura Böök

With support from:

Celsius Projects, Celsiusgatan 45, 212 14 Malmö