By Dave Beech
June 5. July 3. 2004
Opening: Saturday June 5. from 5pm to 8pm
Performance and Talk with Dave Beech on Monday June 7. at 8pm
A map of Berlin grows on the wall. It is made up of pieces of text that follow the lines of Berlin's streets. Some areas are left completely blank, while others are represented densely, the short texts overlapping and cutting across each other. This is an unconventional map; its texts reveal what Berliners think about each day, during their routine walks through the city. Dave Beech, a British artist, based in Manchester, has invited the people of Berlin to pledge part of their daily routines, to reflect on the historical/political slogans that mean most to them. It is these pledges that come together on the wall of Sparwasser HQ, forming an alternative map of Berlin.
Beech is interested in the power of words to transform. "Pledge" uses words to trigger events that, in turn, activate the city. "Pledge" begins as a written invitation in the pages of Zitty. The invitation then leads to a sequence of word-based activities. Reflecting on your favourite historical slogan, while you walk to the shops or walk to work, gives your routine a new character, linking your daily activities to the protesters and marchers who fought for change in a society that we now often take for granted. Their slogans are words that changed the world. Pledging your slogan, emailing the gallery with your slogan and your route, activates the gallery space. Your words have immediate effects: the result is a map of pledges.
In the window of the gallery, to be viewed from the street, is a double-screened video performance by Beech and Tim Brennan. The two men are on opposite sides of a street, using paper and marker pens to "talk" to each other. They discuss the future. Their exchange explores the way that words - thinking, theorizing, understanding, planning, pledging, invitation, instruction - can bring about futures that would not otherwise be possible. And we see, between the screens, how the actions of one performer are modified by the words of the other. In this instantaneous reaction, we are made aware, not only that words change things, but also that the future is already here.
Paul McDevitt is invited to inhabit a room of the gallery, where he will produce small drawings at regularly scheduled times. This is picture making as event. Occupying the room becomes an activity of making sense, rather than filling space. The drawings will accumulate over the period of the exhibition, adding up to a visual record of the occupation of space, analogous to Beech's alternative map.
The sounds of Beech's amateur singing rise from the cellar. He has recorded twenty songs. Beech invited friends to write song lyrics that he promised to sing from the heart, regardless of his own preferences. He sings the lyrics without musical accompaniment. Melody is derived only from the tunes in his head, the songs he sings along to when at home by himself. These pairing of words and tunes are bridges between people; they acknowledge that links exist between us even when we are alone.
Kindly supported by the British Council