Oliver Beer

  • 2019 Beyond - Abu Dhabi Art
    November 21, 2019 - February 29, 2020

    ‘A Thousand Faces’ is a site-specific commission by Abu Dhabi Art across two venues: Al Jahili fortress in the city of Al Ain and at Qasr al Hosn in Abu Dhabi.The title of the exhibition references anthropologist Joseph Campbell’s text The Hero with a Thousand Faces, a comparative mythology that questions the shared narratives across different cultures. 

    Artist Oliver Beer’s project interrogates an idea evoked in the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection, that of universal creativity that “transcends individual cultures of civilisations, times or places”.[1 link] 

    At Al Ain, the labyrinthine rooms of Al Jahili fort will house a vibrant series of new video works, titled ‘Reanimation Paintings’. 1,000 children each contributed a drawing to this monumental communal animation project conceived by Beer, based on paintings from the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection. 

    Each child was asked to copy and reinterpret a painting, using their imagination. These new drawings were scanned and printed onto 16 millimetre film to create a single static animation loop of each artwork.

    The film is projected in the same format as the original works of art. Thanks to the differences of the children’s interpretations, the work becomes a vibrating canvas, its surface constantly changing and recreated. The films engage with the collection in a plural reimagining of each artwork. Alongside these films hangs one of Beer’s signature ‘Two-Dimensional Sculptures’, featuring a dissected and recomposed body of an oud – a musical instrument that has historically traversed borders. There are also ancient swords and daggers of diverse origins, covered in musical graffiti using the scores of a radical 12th century woman composer, Hildegard of Bingen, whose music has crossed centuries of cultural change. 

    At Qasr al Hosn fort, a further chapter of Beer’s ‘Reanimation’ project uses fragments of animated films of Aladdin from three continents, remixed and reanimated. Beer isolates a famous sequence from the story, when the genie emerges from the magic lamp. The artist uses his reanimation technique, passing three historic versions through the hands and minds of children of diverse backgrounds in this region. The films that come together are Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926), a Japanese anime fantasy Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp (1982) and Walt Disney’s Aladdin (1992).

    Together, the works of ‘A Thousand Faces’ – each layered with subtle historical and aesthetic references – interrogate the idea of universal creativity and how individual actions and gestures contribute to the culture of which they are a part. Beer says of the exhibition: “The images we make, the stories we tell and the songs we sing are in a constant state of flux and exchange; but certain ideas and tropes seem to recur across civilizations, and are constantly borrowed, transformed and subverted. Our cultures are rapidly shifting … The thousands of individuals who have contributed to the ‘Reanimation Paintings’ are each essential to the work. Their individual efforts become subconsciously perceptible within the whole, absorbed into a flickering communal creative work.” 


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  • FIAC 2019: new performance
    October 16, 2019 - October 16, 2019
    Palais de la Découverte
    Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt
    75008 Paris

    Oliver Beer’s new performance for the FIAC and the Palais de la Découverte works with radio waves and Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP). Also known as “stray voices”, EVP are unclear and unknown vocal sounds that occur in-between radio frequencies and permeate empty space. These vocal radio phenomena have been used by spiritualists – and even early scientists such as Thomas Edison – to try to contact voices from the afterlife.

    Building on his work with acoustic resonance, Beer turns to resonance in radio waves to transform the strings of an upturned grand piano and a 19th Century bronze sculpture of Giambologna’s famous Mercury, the messenger of the gods, into functioning radio antennae.  Like any metal object, the bronze limbs of Mercury and the copper piano strings can be used to pick up hidden radio waves; their form and dimensions determining the wave frequencies heard.

    Activated live in the Palais de la Découverte, these antennae reveal the ‘stray voices’ reverberating within the historic dome. Beer will collaborate with Lebanese electro-indie band Mashrou’ Leila alongside sopranos Michiko Takahashi and Marie Picault to weave together a composition working with these fugitive sounds. In the composition, these 'Stray Voices' evoke the scientists, artists and musicians across history who have been marginalised and obscured, their voices left unheard.

    Performance time: 7pm & 7:30pm

    More info here.
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  • Oliver Beer: Vessel Orchestra
    July 5, 2019 - August 9, 2019
    The Met Breuer
    945 Madison Avenue
    New York, NY 10021

    Composed of thirty-two sculptures, utilitarian containers, and decorative objects from the Museum's collection, Vessel Orchestra will be the first sound-based installation commissioned by The Met. British artist Oliver Beer (born 1985) uses microphones and speakers to amplify and shape the ambient tones resonating within each vessel, transforming them into an arresting and unexpectedly versatile musical instrument. With objects ranging in origin from ancient Persia to modern America, this exhibition will link works of art across historical periods and cultures, creating an audible portrait of The Met collection.

    Drawing on his musical training, Beer creates artworks that reveal the hidden properties of objects, bodies, and architectural sites. His social and familial relationships often become the blueprint for multidisciplinary works that engage with both intimate and universal concerns, such as the personal and cultural meanings invested in the things we possess.

    During Museum hours, a pre-programmed audio interface will play a new composition written by Beer, animating the vessels in real time—"player-piano style." On Friday evenings, a diverse group of guest musicians will activate the vessels, performing new compositions and improvisations in a series of intimate concerts. Performers include: Ekmeles, Bruce Brubaker, Mashrou Leila, Nico Muhly, Matana Roberts, Women's Raga Massive, and John Zorn.


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  • Oliver Beer at the Biennale of Sydney
    March 16, 2018 - June 11, 2018

    As part of the Sydney Biennale, Oliver Beer will present two new works: a new film and a major performance work engaging with the iconic architecture of the Sydney Opera House for which, in November 2017, he became the inaugural artist in residence.
    During his residency at the Sydney Opera House, Oliver Beer was invited to explore the iconic building and listen for the resonant potential of different locations within the structure. He took singers into its farthest extremities; from the confined concrete spaces inside the tips of the  roof sails, to a deep corridor four stories below sea level, which he describes as having the acoustic of a cathedral. ‘Tuning’ the building as he went, whilst recording and filming, the artist built up a body of work around the unique acoustic fingerprint of the architecture. 

    The site of the Sydney Opera House has a complicated and layered political and cultural history as wells as its own specific harmonies which remain unchanged since the day the building was completed. Revealing the resonant frequencies of the space, Beer's work is an immersive sound composition.

    For the Biennale of Sydney Beer presents a new iteration of his Composition for Tuning an Architectural Space, in which a usually unseen, unremarkable space within the Opera House will be transformed acoustically through a live vocal performance. This site-specific piece expands upon Beer’s exploration of architecture as musical instrument, which is known as the Resonance Project (2007-Present), a series of performances and films based on an acoustic phenomenon: that every architectural space has its own unchanging resonant notes, determined by its dimensions, which can be stimulated using the un-amplified human voice. 

    'The new performance exists at the meeting point between the site and the singers – it’s a duet between their bodies and the building.' The architecture’s unchanging acoustic fingerprint is activated by the singers, whose own musical identity informs composition. The music they bring is ephemeral and inextricably linked to the cultural and social makeup of the city. 

    Composition for Mouths (Songs My Mother Taught Me) I & II, 2018 will be exhibited for the Biennale of Sydney at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. These two films feature singers joining their lips in a tight seal to create a single mouth cavity and exploring the resonant frequencies of each other’s faces and the architecture of the Opera House. Fusing their voices to create rhythmic microtonal harmonic interactions known as ‘beats’, they sing a composition in which Beer adapts forms of their earliest remembered music from their childhoods.

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    October 27, 2017 - October 27, 2017
    Mark Cousins Friday Lectures The Face
    5.00 – 6.00 AA
    34-36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3E

    The Architectural Association   

    Artists’ Talks Series Organised by Parveen Adams

    Oliver Beer has developed a technique using classically trained singers to transform a building into a musical instrument. He composes complex polyphonic music for these newly audible ‘architectural instruments’.

    He has shown world wide: London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Istanbul, Rome…Currently Versailles with commission for the architecture of the Sydney Opera House 2018.

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  • Voyage d'hiver
    October 22, 2017 - January 7, 2018
    Chateau de Versailles
    Place d'Armes
    Versailles, France
    Voyage d'hiver” will reveal the groves in the Gardens in a new light, revisited in multiple ways by contemporary artists, from the glory of autumn to the stunning freeze-over of winter.
    Four historic fountains, each representing a different season, legitimize the important theme of a changing world. During three months “Voyage d'hiver” accompanies those transformations, casting a meditative trail through the gardens which slowly slip into the cold and the frost.
    Metamorphosing a stroll into a personal experience, allowing visitors to perceive nature’s transformation, sixteen artists bring their vision, their sensibility and their poetry. From different countries, genres, and generations, firmly established or up-and-coming, they create together an oneiric trail through the paths and the grooves.
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  • Oliver Beer Book-signing
    June 30, 2017 - June 30, 2017
    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
    37 Dover Street
    W1S 4NJ, London

    Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac is pleased to announce participation in Mayfair Art Week.

    The Gallery will host a book signing with Oliver Beer in the Berkeley Gallery and live performances in the Gallery space. A conversation between the artist and Tim Marlow will take place at the Royal Academy. 

    Friday 30 June
    Open: 10 am - 8 pm
    Oliver Beer | Book signing and drinks with the artist | Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac: 6 - 8 pm

    Oliver Beer, Composition for London, Fully illustrated, 144 pages, text by Ben Eastham and interview by Martin Germann

    Saturday 1 July
    Open: 10 am - 6 pm
    Oliver Beer in conversation with Tim Marlow & other artists | Royal Academy: 12 pm
    Oliver Beer | The Resonance Project | Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac: 12 - 5.45 pm

    Sunday 2 July
    Open: 11 am - 5 pm

    Oliver Beer | The Resonance Project | Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac: 1 - 4.45 pm

    Performed live, visitors will be able to experience the culmination of Oliver Beer's site-specific experiments with his new Resonance Project performance, Composition for London, in which classically-trained singers are placed strategically around the grand staircase and sing specific notes at precise pitches. Working without the aid of speakers or electronic amplification the singers simulate the space's natural frequencies and tease out its intrinsic notes, unchanged since the building's construction in 1776.

    Oliver Beer trained in musical composition in London before studying Fine Art at the Ruskin, Oxford University and Theory of Cinema at the Sorbonne, Paris. His musical background is reflected in a distinct sensitivity to sound and in an interest in the overlap between sound, space and architecture, which he expresses through performance, film and sculpture.


    Mayfair Art Weekend is joined by the Royal Academy of Arts, over 60 art galleries, artists and auction houses to celebrate Mayfair as a vibrant hub of talent, creativity, craftsmanship and production.

    The weekend will offer a programme of free talks, walks and events providing the public with an insight into this unique art district and a chance to experience the unparalleled artistic knowledge, quality and diversity to be found within Mayfair's art community. 

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    March 15, 2017 - June 4, 2017
    Ikon Gallery
    1 Oozells Square
    Birmingham, B1 2HS

    British artist Oliver Beer returns to Ikon for the first time since 2011 to provide audiences with an opportunity to encounter his new and recent work within the context of a judicious survey.

    Oliver Beer interrogates at once the physical properties and emotional value of objects, with a paradoxical emphasis on emptiness and absence. The notion of “negative space” is key – whereby a balance is struck between occupied and unoccupied space – so the viewer is confronted with what is, literally, not there. A number of recent works have involved a selection of vessels – ceramic and otherwise – to create idiosyncratic musical instruments as installations. The empty space within each vessel has its own musical note at which it resonates, and so contributes to a symphony of natural frequencies, with microphones feeding back into looping sound systems.

    A new work, commissioned by Ikon, Reanimation (I Wanna Be Like You), 2017 is a “re-animation” of a scene from Walt Disney’s Jungle Book. 2,500 local school children, from early years until the age of 13, were invited to join in, drawing film stills in order of their age, so that the animation becomes increasingly “grown up”. Frame by frame the scribbles of infants progressively give way to the increasingly lucid drawings of children and then adolescents. Thus Oliver Beer touches on the inexorable passage of time – through a time-based medium – in order to encourage a consideration of what it is like to be human.

    More information: https://ikon-gallery.org/event/oliver-beer/

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    October 1, 2016 - October 2, 2016
    Pont des Arts
    75006 PARIS
    En continu de 19h à 7h
    La Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac est heureuse d’annoncer la participation d’Oliver Beer à la Nuit Blanche 2016. Le 1er octobre, l’artiste présentera une nouvelle installation sonore et lumineuse sur le Pont des Arts.
    Mixée en directe et diffusée en divers points du pont, une captation sonore du fleuve rendra audible une vie sous-marine insoupçonnée où cohabitent lents mouvements de fonds, échos d’embarcations motorisées et clapotis, entre autres sonorités non identifiées. En dialogue avec ces voix liquides, un halo de lumière fluorescente animera la Seine. Par ce dispositif inspiré des lumières vertes utilisées par les pêcheurs thaïlandais pour attirer poissons et calamars, l’artiste tentera de révéler la vie secrète du fleuve.
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  • Imprisoned, Jailbreak, Imprisoned, Jailbreak
    March 19, 2016 - April 30, 2016
    Tokyo, Japan

    Oliver Beer has been invited to participate in an artist-led group exhibition that explores the notion of "the frame". Whether it be linguistic, socio-political, perspectival, material, or of the boundary around something, "the frame" tends to form itself and is inseparable from human existence. Artists are capable of reconstructing this pre-existing "frame." It is the artist, who can eliminate, manipulate, transcend, and even transform its meaning. 


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