The model, artist and DJ spearheading the launch of Venice’s first permanent art district

BY LUCY KNIGHT

Fayann Smith, a woman of colour, stormed into London’s formerly white-dominated rave scene back in 2006, launching several successful club nights, including All You Can Eat at Ministry of Sound with her friend Jim Warboy. 

The all-female October! Collective, of which Fayann is part, will be at the forefront of the Bienelle celebrating the opening of Venice’s Giudecca Art District.

Fayann even composed the soundtrack for the district’s flagship installation, Body As Home.

DIVA: Can you tell us more about October! Collective and your involvement in the Giudecca Art District?

FAYANN SMITH: October! Collective is made up of three very different female artists who have united to create a new platform for empowerment through the arts. We want an open a dialogue about difficult or taboo topics, to make space for voices that struggle to be heard.

We’re creating networks that will allow us to offer resources to artists from non-traditional backgrounds and to create innovative art experiences outside of the gallery model. 

One of our recent projects Body As Home, a film by founding member Aleksandra Karpowicz and in collaboration with October! Collective, has been selected as the flagship project for the launch of the Giudecca Art District, during this year’s Biennale.

Giudecca is a gorgeous island in the Venetian lagoon. The district will be a new permanent destination for contemporary art that will unite existing galleries on the island and introduce some new ones. We are absolutely thrilled to become part of art history in this way. 

What was your inspiration for composing the soundtrack to Body As Home?

Aleksandra gave us some beautiful footage to work with. Looking at the landscapes, and the various subjects who are all part of their own distinctive narratives, offered many threads of inspiration.

Immediately it was apparent that each location should include something from its own musical heritage, so we chose our orchestration from a sonic palette based on the city. It is a dream soundtrack project as the visuals are so lush and full of intrigue; the music flowed naturally. 

Why is it so important to see more women of colour in the music scene?

I think at this point in history we can confidently attest that genius can reside in any skin. A healthy culture, one that seeks to engender excellence, will tap into all the talent available, with no exceptions.

Women of colour have had a strong and directional presence throughout the development of music as an art form. It’s important that this legacy is visible; not for lip service to a false notion of diversity but for its ingenuity and genuine value.   

Your club night All You Can Eat (AYCE) was hailed as “this decade’s Taboo” by i-D magazine. Why do you think this was?

Co-promoter Jim Warboy and I were very lucky that we created a project that connected to the energy that prevailed at that time. It felt very free, very exploratory.

Technology was really starting to have an impact on how we socialised and presented ourselves. The people that we met when we were hosting the AYCE parties were some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met: smart, infinitely creative, and powerful.

We attracted a nucleus of those people, they loved what AYCE stood for and they ultimately made the party what it was.

On your Instagram you describe yourself as a “Mystic Pornographer” and a “Mental Athlete”. What do you mean by that?

It’s a little bit of poetic fun with polarities. I think of myself as a confluence of contradiction. I let people read into it in whatever way they find the most stimulating. Some might say that mystic pornography is an oxymoron. I’d say it’s probably agnostic proposition and just roll with it! 

And for the future, what do you aspire to?

To feel comfortable in my own skin and wake up each morning looking forward to my day. And to help as many people as possible feel the same way. 

Follow Fayann on Instagram here. For more on Venice’s Giudecca Art District, click here. For October! Collective, click here follow them on Twitter here

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