Dara Birnbaum - South London Gallery

Dara Birnbaum
South London Gallery
9th December 2011 - 12 February 2012

Arabesque, 2011

Arabesque presents multiple perspectives on the composer Robert Schumann’s Arabesque Opus 18, 1839, which was composed for his wife Clara. Through a multi-screen video installation, over 4 different screens, we see the switch between still footage, yearning excerpts from Clara’s diary and piano performances of Schumanns’s composition, taken from YouTube and a range of other sources. The quality of the footage varies, as does the degree of skill of each musician in every performance.

Upstairs we find videos from the mid-seventies, they are recorded on handheld cameras, with an amateurish technique. My favourite had to be Everything’s Gonna Be Alright, from 1976, a mash-up up of mass media imagery and pop culture. Conversation interrupted by a scene of a man and woman dancing, back to conversation, it’s fun and you can easily enjoy it in its entirety for almost a full 11 minutes without losing interest.

Everything's Gonna Be Alright, 1976