NEWS: Christopher Rollen – Vox Pop @ Vane Art Gallery | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Those as long in the tooth as I am will remember with fondness the artful skewed pop of Les Cox (Sportifs), Christopher Rollen’s primary musical concern. Having moved to Berlin and taken his doleful Scottish burr with him (boo, hiss etc.) we’re delighted to note that Mr Rollen continues to demonstrate unique voices, albeit in a different medium, as he returns to the region with an art exhibition which focuses on the presentation of personal and collective histories.

The exhibition at Vane Art Gallery takes inspiration from Dr Wilhelm Doegen (1877-1967), director of the sound department at the Prussian State Library in Berlin. During World War One, Doegen visited seventy POW camps where he recorded over 250 languages and dialects; prisoners recited the parable of The Prodigal Son, as well as examples of traditional music. This incredible social documentation delivered 1,650 shellac records, with Personalbogen (speaker data) and photographs compiled for each speaker.

Rollen’s work, using the modern ‘vox pop’ vernacular, follows Doegen’s original methodology, recording civilians and serving military personnel reading the same parable, with additional data mapping the origins of the participants living in Germany. Three of Rollen’s video works – Berliner Küche, documenting a performance by Rollen in his Berlin kitchen; Come Give Me Your Hand, which marries imagery from the Soviet War Memorial frieze in Berlin’s Treptower Park with a karaoke re-imagining of the Beatles’ I Want To Hold Your Hand; and Toprak, which utilises a damaged 1960s Turkish pop record to examine the country’s troubled history – will also be screened, offering yet further demonstration of the artist’s unique outlook.

Vox Pop is at Vane Art Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 13th August until Saturday 3rd September.

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