Now that the artist/driver and megaphone/sculpture are back in Canada, I finally have a chance to write a few words about my wonderful experience at Urban Interface.
Over the course of three weeks, I was privileged to work with a terrific team of producers and artists at Urban Interface. Through them, I got an outlet for my work, one that led directly to the streets of Mitte and Wedding. Two or three times a week for three weeks, I rode the backstreets and sidewalks of Mitte and Wedding, learning which streets were good to ride on and which ones would bring the most interested viewers. I talked to hundreds of Berliners on the street, and gave out almost 1000 cards with the piece’s phone number. I played hundred of calls for the ever-tolerant Mitte and Wedding residents, often to their great delight. Berliner Stimmen came to have a few favourite locations for playing speeches: in front of the berliner Mauer museum and along Augustrasse where the road was so narrow that you had to listen to whatever your neighbour had to say during their one minute of anonymous speech. For those Berliners who happened to turn down Augustrasse on an afternoon when I was there, there was the inescapable voice of another Berliner, booming down the street.
In the end Berliner Stimmen became a dialogue between an artist with a mobile sculpture and a willing community. And this is good, as with this work I was interested in using the artwork as a ‘vehicle’ to promote dialogue. The candy-coloured appearance of the work and the very loud sound it makes when a caller’s voice booms through it is actually meant serve the purpose of attracting people into dialogue—about art, community, and, most importantly, about what it is they have to say.
Perhaps a few photos will sum up the on-the-street experience of the work more than words can:
Playing speeches in front of the Reichstag on a lovely Sunday Afternoon. Photo by Daniela Friebel.
Playing speeches at the stadtheilmanagementbureau before the last bike ride of Berliner Stimmen. Photo by Daniel Jolliffe.
A thousand danke to all who helped to make my project on the streets of Berlin a reality… The many anonymous callers, the Stadtentwicklungsbüro, Fat Tire Bike tours, teletype.de, and of course the very kind people of Berlin and of Urban Interface!
PS: berliner-stimmen.net and all its speeches, will be available for at least a few years, so check it out.