Soldier's Song invites public to sing karaoke with serving soldiers at Islington Mill installation

By Richard Moss | 22 February 2011
a photo of a bare chested tattooed soldier
One of the serving soldiers in Soldier's Song
Exhibition: Soldier's Song, Islington Mill, Salford, February 23-25 2011

Karaoke might have become a regular visitor to art galleries of late, but in Salford an art installation is using the popular pastime to get behind the news reports of far flung war zones and bring us a little closer to the human face of soldiers serving overseas. 

Soldier's Song was made by Renny O’Shea during an 18-month stint working with military personnel, recorded in a variety of locations from barrack-rooms to bars. The results toured UK galleries in 2010 inside a karaoke booth fashioned out of a shed, inside which participants selected from seven soldiers to duet with.

The piece introduced a variety of personnel and their favourite tunes, from the Sinatra classic I’ve got you Under my Skin and Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline to Robbie Williams’ Angels and McFly’s All About You.

Described as a “quietly provocative” work, it is now making an appearance for two days in Salford in stripped-down form prior to an international tour.

Whatever the format and whatever the views of those who experience Soldier's Song, it seems to offer a poignant and unusual encounter far removed from the remote relationship the public often has with members of the armed forces. 
  • Continues to Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry, March 8-18 2011, then Moor St Station, Birmingham, March 22-27 2011 (end date tbc) as part of Fierce Festival.
  • Find out more about Islington Mill at www.islingtonmill.com
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