From A to B and Back Again.

The work springs from a fascination for a birch-horn. This instrument, and communication tool, was in use two generations ago. Today the birch-horn is a memory token for a different way of living, hence its romantic flare. What interested me was to see if we can use this aged tool to communicate in today’s busy urban environment; to see if we can add another way of communicating. Performing the work meant collaboration with a group of people, which was a challenge that I relished. In this piece, I wanted to try something out.

After an open call for these instruments on the radio, I collected eight horns. Salomon Helperin kindly held a workshop with us on how to make the birch-horn sound. Then, a day in March, we set out; eight people equipped with a horn each. The participants where located on rooftops, church towers and on the ground in order to create a chain of sound, starting from A going to B and back again.

What happen in full can be discovered on the DVD produced as a part of the course at Context and Media, Konsthögskolan Valand.

Memories of a Mobile Phone and Birch-Horn Duet.

The palpable joy at finally spotting a friend among the city sounds below. Mobile phone in one hand, 4ft long birch-horn outstretched in the other. A horn, even, that is no longer rightfully a horn but a tourist toy. Such are the logistics of Mari Lagerquist’s poetic perception. A long, low sonorous note is sounded from the birch-horn: a wake-up call? A warning? Redemption from a culture of betrayal? The performer talks excitedly into his mobile phone, a surrogate echo, confirming his part played in existence. A low-angled video camera, frames this assemblage on the rooftop dawn. The world is become young again, history once more in its infancy.  

Ross Birrell 2007



Useful links;

history of the birch-horn, in swedish;

and short in english;

Salomon Helperin website

To order a free copy of the DVD see my contact details
The DVD also includes work by Thora Gunnarsdottir,
Mateusz Pozar and Magnus Tilly.

Thanks to all participants!!!