(Auf Abwegen)

In 1998, Marc Behrens started working on various audiovisual installations that dealt with the sonic characteristics of predetermined sites which he defined “entities”, like if these places were “a being, an essence” to quote the artist’s words. “Entity Mülheim”, from 2005-2006, was originally conceived as such and subsequently transferred on this double DVD, whose sequence can be played both in “linear” and “random” mode. Mülheim is a district of Cologne, Behrens bringing to our attention aspects that could be normally perceived as “regular” – a bridge suspended on the river, traffic, kids playing in a courtyard, a flea market, a dirty beach. But he does it by vivisectioning both their pictorial qualities and sounds, the latter rendered fascinatingly impenetrable thanks to his knowledgeable methods of alteration. The images are sometimes edited, too – more or less heavily – to add a sort of casual schizophrenic touch. Two representatives of the biggest ethnic groups in the city (a German man about 60 on the first disc and a younger Turkish woman on the second) were asked questions about Mülheim and their opposite ethnos; yet their answers aren’t heard, as they were fragmented, scrambled and mangled by Behrens, transforming the experience in something akin to a sensual electroshock. In another combination people, cars and trains on the above mentioned bridge move forward and backward like in a metropolitan dance. The sounds aren’t necessarily paralleled by pictures; indeed, a good number of sections consists only of the audio segment while we find ourselves staring at a black screen. But the quality of the aural messages is on such a level of evocative response that we could listen to them singularly and declare ourselves happy enough. The very last couple of minutes pairs an aircraft in a blue sky with a breathtaking subsonic rumble, ending this excellent piece of work with yet another classy touch.

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