Allard van Hoorn explores our relationship to public space and the extent to which we can claim ownership over it. In life we develop relationships to our surroundings; to the places in which we work, live, sleep, love, dream; sites of turning points and great events that develop very specific and lasting connotations. For 'Urban Songlines' he presents translations into music of three public structures and buildings. Using sound, image, video and animation, this exhibition serves as a realization of his theories and research, as well as documentation of the process. 'Urban Songlines' is a proposal to the audience: by allowing us to 'listen' to buildings rather than see them, the work seeks to change our relationship to space.
Van Hoorn encountered songlines in Australia where they are used by Aboriginals to map the land. In their tone and lyrics, a songline defines the cartography, spiritual embodiment and ownership of an area of land. By applying this to urban spaces, van Hoorn is allowing us to review the relationship we all have to the many spaces in which we exist and yet often do not own. His songlines allow the possibility of a person visiting a space they may never have physically visited.
The three songlines in the exhibition describe an empty Philips warehouse, a gas-holder in South London and the Thames Flood Barrier. These are each monuments of urban industrial environments that are in a state of transition; with their original function nearing obsolescence they will soon be finding new uses for the public or facing demolition. Field recordings made at each site have been translated into music that encapsulates a sense of unpeopled emptiness. In the wind and echo one can sense the expansive scale and in sampled sounds, of foghorns and metallic-bangs, one can picture the materials and activities. Van Hoorn has reproduced each songline onto vinyl - a tangible, physical recording of the music, which can be easily dispersed, thereby sharing the sites. Alongside the songlines, van Hoorn will exhibit documentation of his locations in photographs, drawings and animation. There is also an airtight glass jar which holds an information-key of the Thames Flood Barrier songline, with the co-ordinates of its location, engraved along its side. An identical object was thrown into the Thames, in a performance by van Hoorn, so that it might - as a message in a bottle - present someone somewhere with this piece of London.
'Urban Songlines' is the latest part of a practice that is playful, inquisitive. Searching for new and different ways of seeing the world and our relationship to it, van Hoorn makes his discoveries via translations of medium, cultures and era. His art is presented not as a final word but as a part in an on-going discussion.
Allard van Hoorn
Allard van Hoorn (Leiden, 1968) lives and works in Amsterdam. He has exhibited internationally, including shows at Gasworks (London), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Van Abbemuseum (Eindhoven), MoCA Museum of Contemporary Art (Shanghai), Deutsches Architektur Zentrum (Berlin) and The Moore Space (Miami). Van Hoorn is an editor of HTV De IJsberg and he frequently organizes panels, workshops and lectures.