Thoughts On: Berlin Gallery Weekend (Part Three: Dara Friedman)

Dara Friedman 

 Dichter at Supportico Lopez, Kurfürstenstrasse 14B, Berlin

Stills from Dichter
photograph by Supportico Lopez

            The last time that I visited Supportico Lopez they were hosting a rather forgettable group show. This time around though, Dichter (the German word for Poet) by the artist Dara Friedman was a far more captivating experience. 

             Spread across four channels and projected across two walls, the video-work was originally created in 16mm film and later transferred to HD video giving the images a beautifully eerie, richly coloured quality. Friedman had held an open call looking for performers to recite a poem that is meaningful to them. From this open call she selected sixteen individuals and filmed them reciting their poems using a method that she adapted from Jerzi Grotowski’s voice training techniques that work to fill the entire speaker’s body with their own sound waves. 

             The poems, spoken in a variety of languages, are delivered by the performers standing one at a time in front of a bright fuchsia background. Friedman explains that her work is directly about poetry that “…you ingested as a teenager, and that then becomes sort of part of you.”. By using this methodology the actors fully embody the poems, in the way that they feel the poems embody them.

            Within the installation, the projections of each individual are presented stacked somewhat haphazardly on top of each other like building blocks, and flash on and off according to their own inherent rhythm. The combinations of films which are “playing” at any one time jumps from person to person across the room: switching between close-ups and wide angles, at all times creating a dizzying sense of people and words vying passionately for your attention. The clash of languages (German, Russian, Italian and English) occasionally brings itself to a crescendo, though individually the balance of silence to sound within each poem-film is evenly split.             

          As a work Dichter is presenting the emotion and sensation of “What the words do (to you) and how they feel in your mouth…” through the embodiment of spoken word. Friedman explains that “…finding and feeling the words of a poem in your mouth creates a rush of energy.” She has set out to harness this poetic energy which is otherwise unexplainable in “simple” terms, and uses the tools available to her as a filmmaker to demonstrate it.

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