BüroFriedrich on Fri, 16 May 2003 11:03:40 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-ro] this saturday: ross birrell atBüroFriedrich

Title: this saturday: ross birrell at BüroFriedrich

Ross Birrell At BüroFriedrich

Opening: Saturday 5 May 2003 at 6.00pm - open end

drinks, bbq
live music by
egill and the mammoths
sascha steinfurth
vanishing breeze
+++special guest+++

my cool and the plastic heads
andré marose


The throwing away, abandonment and gifting of books, packages and flags are the main characteristics of ENVOY, a series of actions by British artist Ross Birrell (Glasgow 1969). The actions occur in places that are chosen deliberately to highlight the poetic and political nature of the work.  Documented in texts, photographs or videos, they are all presented in this solo show.

In November 2000 on the Staten Island ferry the artist holds the stars and stripes aloft to the Manhattan skyline before throwing it into the Hudson River as the boat passes the Statue of Liberty. In other works Birrell gifts copies of Thomas More's 'Utopia' to the UN and the International Court of Justice in The Hague. These complex international political institutions are seen in their most basic form when Birrell presents the books to individual employees.

Birrell's actions not only place historical ideologies in political and ethical context. They are also connected to the geographical. This is certainly the case  with the Collected Writings of Marx and Engels, which were returned to the scene of their attempted realisation, St. Petersburg, when the book was thrown from a bridge next to the Winter Palace into the Neva River. Through his performative actions Ross Birrell examines failed Utopias and the narratives of social change in both east and west.

It is not always Birrell that is the envoy. Others have taken the role of courier on his behalf, suggesting that it is the action that is important rather than the identity of the individual. This attempts to embody the principles of democracy in the creative process. The work is not only focused on getting a message to a certain place, it also forwards a message to the viewer. However, as the structure of the work is open-ended, the actions remain ambiguous and final interpretation avoids closure. This is articulated in the double meaning of the title; 'The Envoy' or 'l'envoi' (in french) can signify both a person (the messenger, the courier), or the object itself (a parcel, a gift or a letter).

Following the political trajectory of the exhibitions that have taken place since last winter at BüroFriedrich, the conceptual aspect of Ross Birrell's work is a further reflection on  the possibilities of realising utopian aspirations in the current geo- political climate.
Exhibition dates: 20.5.2003- 28.6.2003

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 12.00pm-6.00pm

this show is sponsored by: British Council

Holzmarktstrasse 15 - 18
S-Bahnbögen 53-54
10179 Berlin

tel: +49 (0)30 201 65115
fax: +49 (0)30 201 65114


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