Archived entries for Berlin

new york new york

Nina Hagen, much underrated as a vocalist and performer, explains disco NY style.

susan philipsz – turner prize winner 2010

(repost from Oct 6 2010)
Prediction of course, but a strong contender. Yaaayyy! Congratuations to Susan Philipsz! If you’re not aware of her work have a look at the excellent A Song Cycle for the City of London

Berlin-based glaswegian Susan Philipsz’ work is about the memory of place evoked through soundscape – using her own voice, or maybe sound samples via vibraphone, she brings a fragmentary drift of the past into now. She’s used a range of cover sources for the voice – from traditional scottish and irish laments to strawberry switchblade, george a. romero and opera. The works are also grounded in literary and cultural allusions in context with each location. The methods of voicing are low key, allowing imagination to work with the effect.

The interesting part for me is the way soundscapes can alter perceptions of place, both city and hinterland, in ways unexpected from prosaic location – they become invocations, and are dangerous – a singing-up the dead (there’s the romero connection, then). They also bring these narratives embedded in place into the open, however.

Comparisons will be drawn with sound artist Janet Cardiff, of course. I think that shows this is still an emerging practice; for site-specific work, intimate broadcast soundscape in cityspace is still new. Everybody in scotland’s central belt will be familiar though with the bigger scale here, from respected public arts duo Dalziel + Scullion – the horn perhaps best categorised now as a brave failure.

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So 2010 has turned out to be a successful one for work with strong connections to psychogeography in the UK, with May Miles Thomas winning a BAFTA, Patrick Keiller’s much-anticipated new film and now Susan Philipsz winning the Turner prize.

image below from artangel

susan philipsz :: turner prize winner 2010

Prediction of course, but a strong contender. If you’re not aware of her work have a look at the excellent A Song Cycle for the City of London

Berlin-based glaswegian Susan Philipsz’ work is about the memory of place evoked through soundscape – using her own voice, or maybe sound samples via vibraphone, she brings a fragmentary drift of the past into now. She’s used a range of cover sources for the voice – from traditional scottish and irish laments to strawberry switchblade, george a. romero and opera. The works are also grounded in literary and cultural allusions in context with each location. The methods of voicing are low key, allowing imagination to work with the effect.

The interesting part for me is the way soundscapes can alter perceptions of place, both city and hinterland, in ways unexpected from prosaic location – they become invocations, and are dangerous – a singing-up the dead (there’s the romero connection, then). They also bring these narratives embedded in place into the open, however.

Comparisons will be drawn with sound artist Janet Cardiff, of course. I think that shows this is still an emerging practice; for site-specific work, intimate broadcast soundscape in cityspace is still new. Everybody in scotland’s central belt will be familiar though with the bigger scale here, from respected public arts duo Dalziel + Scullion – the horn perhaps best categorised now as a brave failure.

So maybe two in a row for Glasgow in 2010?

image below from artangel

cheap dialogue, cheap essential scenery*

If ever there was a symbol of humankinds’ misperceptions and delusions, it’s the Berlin Wall. The torch for the wall remains lit, surprisingly, with many from the system that fell unceremoniously on 9 november 1989 still pining for the red days (along with truth-dodging west germans on an Ostalgie trip). The GDR was a vast set for the filming of a reality version of Orwell’s 1984, shot in StalinaScope, with a cast of – well, a whole country. Citizen Kane? Oh I think we can do better than that… are you ready for your closeup Herr Honecker?

The basic function of the wall, in case you’d forgotten (I had) was not to keep the decadent Westies out – it was to keep the psychologically traumatised Easters from leaving their brave new utopian “demoncratic” state in droves. Like an eastern european version of Hotel California.

Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire and U2′s Zoo go some way to explain the suffering of Berliners during and after the war, and their recovery, in part, in the Reagan era. But it’s rose-tinting – the system was of course a nightmare, like all attempts to paraphrase Marx, Brechtian approval or not. von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others explains some aspects, albeit gratuitously in parts; Gerhard Behrendt’s The Sandman childrens animation is a charming propaganda of the ideologies that kept the system afloat.
*Holidays in the Sun
Screenshot from BBC2′s March 2009 The Lost World of Communism

sandman



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