Robert Burns unlikely star at Venice art festival

Robert Burns' The Slave's Lament has been set to music. Picture: Getty

Robert Burns' The Slave's Lament has been set to music. Picture: Getty

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THE words of Robert Burns drifted over Venice’s Grand Canal yesterday, as part of one of the world’s biggest contemporary art festivals.

For the 56th Venice Biennale, artist Graham Fagen, who lives in Glasgow and studied at Glasgow School of Art, has created a sound and video work. It sets Burns’ 1792 poem The Slave’s Lament to music by composer Sally Beamish with vocals by dub reggae singer Ghetto Priest.

The exhibition, at the 16th-century Palazzo Fontana, reflects the impact of reggae music on Fagen as a young man and the words of Burns, who was a mainstay of his Ayrshire education.

Scottish artists have played a part in the Venice Biennale since Charles Rennie Mackintosh exhibited in 1899, and Scotland has held its own exhibition there since 2003.

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