There is a strange, low-key, poetic humour in the subtle ceramic elements and sonic environment of Bergur Thomas Anderson’s installation, ‘The One and Only Body of The Hum & Lego Flamb.’ Currently showing at the Harbinger gallery, it’s an investigation of the friction between making sound and listening, bound together with hay, like traces lost during harvest.
Bergur is a Rotterdam-based visual artist and bass player. “I had a very quiet artistic practice before I moved to the Netherlands,” he says. “I made music with all these people, then, when I was alone, visual arts became a very solitary practice.”
In his new show, we see how these fields have grown closer. The Hum is a spatial and sonic character that manifests Bergur’s interest in city soundscapes and noise pollution. “It’s an ominous figure who doesn’t really have a representational form,” he explains. “He is the persona that performs the sounds that surround our daily living. This presence that makes sounds that we don’t always hear but we always feel.”
Lego Flamb, on the other hand, is a listener. The storyline begins when he “notices or wakes up to a Hum he hasn’t heard before,” Bergur explains. “So he goes outside with a recording device to find and investigate this new humming sound.”
Flamb also likes to camouflage himself into the environment. “I’m intrigued by these practices that tend to mimic real life situations,” says Bergur, “and the effort it takes to go unnoticed.” He is interested in slippery representation; his characters blend in and don’t want to be seen.
Malfunction in another part of town
The exhibition’s sound comes and goes, mixed withbits of dialogue, field recordings and vocal improvisations, made with Pétur Eggertsson. In the small sculptures, we see a part of Lego Flamb’s appearance before full camouflage mode; nametags, a knee that provides direction; fragments of petrified sounds by Hum, like in ‘Burrrrrr’ or blowing a raspberry, which is meant to be disruptive. “When it’s applied to someone who is providing a city’s audio ambiance,” says Bergur, “it’s like realising there’s some kind of malfunction in another part of town.”
He collaborated with designer Karen Huang on a curtain and camouflage costume on which both characters are woven into one fabric. “We were trying to approach the history and concept of camouflage as this kind of methodology of being able to put everything under one hat,” says Bergur, “Like if you were categorising a gigantic mess and you just put it all in one box and say, ‘Okay that’s sorted.’”
Tiny little pool
The costume allows him to embody and narrate the story of the characters meeting. In this performance, Bergur also animates some of the objects, like a tiny little pool, which “is Lego Flamb’s favorite spot to record matches hitting water.”
Bergur’s work is clearly on an interesting trajectory, with a strange and playful curiosity in the backdrop, sounds and gestures.
‘The One and Only Body of The Hum & Lego Flamb’ is fifth show in the ‘Slow and Romantic’ exhibition series. It followed Sigrún Gyða Sveinsdóttir’s fantastic opera workshop. Next up is Rúnar Örn Marínósson’s workshop on gestures on June 22nd. You can also see Bergur perform at Mengi with Ash Kilmartin this August.
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