Oliver Beer, Deep and Meaningful (2009)

12Jul10

Three locations are evoked by the film Deep and Meaningful by Oliver Beer: the sewer in which the original choral performance was filmed; the type of church where you might expect to hear such a thing; and the gallery environment in which it might end up.

The correspondence between church and art gallery is self-evident. To many both are sacred spaces. Both offer a place to reflect. Visitors to either may hope for revelations or the appearance of truths.

But the links between church and sewer are less clear. There could be straightforward blasphemy in the work. Or perhaps it is that both perform perform civilising roles and both absolve the user.

Finally this piece brings the sewer into the gallery. In a more polite way, it is a similar gesture to that of Duchamp and his urinal. It could suggest art is a functional and dirty business.

Seven well-trained voices join in harmony for the performance. Their song is pitched to vibrate with the sewer and echo around the gallery. It elevates the former, and raises questions in the latter.

The church is conspicuous by its absence. ‘Amen’ is sung without an obvious referent. It could be affirming Victorian architecture or possibly contemporary art. But you can find religion in both.

Oliver Beer, Deep and Meaningful, is currently on show upstairs at 20 Hoxton Square Projects until 24 July 2010.

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