Documentary: Voices of Help Exhibit 2017
Interview to Sound Installation
Citing influences from Joseph Beuys, Charles Ives, Samuel Becket, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, along with the story and folklore collecting traditions of Studs Terkel and Alan Lomax, Brody uses oral history to create word and sound orientated narratives from documentary material. “A story is a melody and a melody is a story,” Brody mentions in his interview with Der Tagesspiegel. His installation work general examine the relationship between voice-melody and identity and the notion of home. Brody elieves that while words carry one meaning, the voice-melody can be heard as carrying it’s own independent narrative. Voices speaking one language with the melody of another language contain an infinitely more complex parallel narratives. In addition, the voice-melody reveals both impersonal and personal information: origin, family history, travels, but also emotional state and physical condition.
Brody’s first major sound installation was featured at the Jewish Museum Berlin’s 2011 Heimatkunde Exhibit. Five Easy Pieces explored the notion of home by asking people who live in Berlin to describe how they view themselves in relation to their adopted city.
The installation includes Swiss film maker, Dani Levy, Afro-German writer, Katharina Oguntoy, Indian curator, Mini Kapur, teachers Anna and Helmut Franz, and Brody himself. While the Berlners describe their place in Berlin, their voice-melodies reveal much about where they come from and their emotional state. The museum built a surround sound room to display the exhibit.
For the NK art space in connection with the Transmediale Festival or Digital Art and Culure Brody created a surveillance art piece, Five Families Listening: Eine Lauschinstallation (2015). The piece explores the acoustic spaces of living rooms through secret recordings of families talking.
Brody’s Art Accompanying Noise (2016) for the Prinz-Georg Art Space is a pivotal work because it explored the sounds around each artist working while he or she talks about creative process. The sounds of work reflect the materials used, and tell their own narrative. The artist discussing their work and the results of the work are secondary to the noises, which are used as the basis for musical composition. The byproduct of the noise becomes the subject of focus while the finished objects of art are secondary. The pieces are displayed in boxes with the sound composition coming from each cover
Talking Melody-Singing Story (2016) was done as Brody’s Artist in Residence project for the Muenchner Kammerspiele. The piece is based on the to main parts of an opera, the aria and recitative. For Talking-Melody, Brody recorded singers recalling the moment they discovered that their voices were special. The stories are used to create arias based of the voice-melodies of the singers. For Singing-Story Brody recorded people in three different cities describing what to them is opera. The answers were accompanied by a recitative accompaniment. The interviews include vocal stars like Anna Prohaska, Laurent Naouri and Lorin Sklamberg. A mini opera house was built to contain the installation.
Süddeutsche Zeitung writes, “Talking Melody – Singing Story”. Der knapp zwanzigminütige Hörfilm des amerikanische Musikers Paul Brody reißt die oft so perfekt inszenierte Oberfläche der Kunstform Oper auf, lässt etwa Sänger intim plaudern oder befragt Strafgefangene in Alabama zu ihrem Verhältnis zur Oper, genauso wie deutsche Passanten…Brodys Klanginstallation fängt diesen Moment des Intimwerdens wunderbar auf: Opernsänger, die über ihre ersten bewussten Erfahrungen mit ihrer Stimme plaudern – die meisten dieser Sängern fangen dann prompt an, Kinderlieder zu singen – nicht erzwungen, mehr als klangliches Beispiel für ihre Anekdoten.
Voices of Help (2016-2917) is a three room documentary sound installation in the Jugend Museum Berlin. The piece explores concepts of help through interviews with community and social workers around a post socialist-communist area of Berlin. (Rote Insel.) The recording of each voice received and instrument that brought out the personal qualities of the interviewees. The first room is was dedicated to hearing the stories about how helpers began. The second room explored the tools of professional social workers through collected narratives, the third room was dedicated to those expanding the system of help, mostly by volunteering to help refugees in ways meaningful to the helpers themselves.
The exhibit was inspired by a Studs Terkel curiosity for the neighbourhood where Brody lives, the knowledge that help is not as prominent American culture, and by the fact that people help Brody’s mother when she was put on the children’s transport as a thirteen year old girl escaping from Nazi Vienna.
Talking Melody-Singing Story Installation (part 1)
(Artist in Residence at the Munich Kammerspiele project)
5 Singers telling about their earliest memories of singing. The Aria.
In order of appearance:
Kevin Conners-Bavarian State Opera
Jelena Kuljic-Munich Kammerspiele
Laurent Naouri -Bavarian State Opera & Opera Leon
Anna Prohaska- Soprano Soloist
Lauren Sklambourg-Lead singer, Klezmatics