New Performance and Sculpture
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
What’s your favourite musical instrument? The piano? Guitar, maybe? Cool. Well Oliver Beer’s favourite instrument is buildings.
I walked into Thaddeaus Ropac’s new space in 18th century (but recently extensively renovated) Ely house, driven purely by the Instagram posts showing the beautiful architecture – and I wasn’t disappointed on that front. But walking through this hallway, there was a loud humming coming from the walls! Or so I thought….
Walking further in, I saw three people each standing with their face to the wall (as if they’d been sent to the naughty corner) humming in unison, the sound travelling up the crevices of the room and expanding until it filled the building with its haunting reverie. It was all the more impactful since it was totally unexpected.
This is Oliver Beer’s installation, using the specific forms of the architecture to fill the space with his sound – a totally immersive installation piece. He studied music before transitioning into fine art (aka came to the dark side) and is particularly interested in the interplay of architecture, space and sound. The ‘humming’ sound he makes is very specific vocal technique that travels through the empty spaces in a building and gives it a vibrating, individual ‘voice’. That explains why I thought the sound was emanating from the walls! It’s the same principle when you pull out the party trick as you run your finger around the rim of your wine glass. Classically trained singers are employed for the performance, turning the building itself into an instrument.
There was also a fantastic Gilbert & George exhibition about Gordon’s Gin, and a room of minimalist sculpture that I just drooled over. So all in all, Thaddaeus Ropac opened to London with a bang not a whimper
Composition for London, Oliver Beer, 2017