To the Place or Being in the Place, Part 2, 2006
To the Place or Being in the Place, Part 2, 2006

To the Place or Being in the Place, Part 2, 2006

3 screen video, 12 minute loop

Treading a line between the intelligible and the incomprehensible is allsopp&weir;’s (Paul Allsopp and Andy Weir) To The Place or being in The Place, a video projection of overgrown urban spaces accompanied by two soundtracks. The almost pastoral scenes of courtyards overgrown with ivy serve as a ground for a figurative movement of two voices. The first, broadcast into the gallery space, is a crisp English voice briskly narrating set phrases from language tapes. The other, heard through headphones, is the stumbling voice of a non-native English speaker attempting to keep up with the onrushing words. Lists such as “here we are / here’s the hotel / here’s your ice-cream” or “that’s my husband / that’s my mother / that’s my sister” are spoken and fail to be spoken at the same time. The emotive impact of the work is that it demonstrates an inherent violence within language and symbolic networks of meaning. The gold standard of correct form is put forward as an ideal against which the contingent user is judged and punished. As an audience member one is put in a tentative space of identification and mis-recognistion, witnessing a painful aural mirror-stage with all the attendant vicissitudes of narcissism and agresion. The stumbling substance of the voice produces a certain remainder, of both pleasure and pain, that haunts the concepts of ownership and mastery that the phrases “that’s your / that’s my…” point towards.

Frances Summers, Review of ‘Arsenal: Artist Exploring the Potential of Sound as a Weapon’, Alma Enterprises, London, published in The Senses & Society journal, Volume 2, Number 1, March 2007

The brutal potential of sound can sometimes defy expectations and manifest itself in muted tones. The soundtrack to allsopp&weir;’s To the Place or Being in the Place (2006) is based on a foreign language-learning cassette for speakers of English. The artists edited together instructions, words and phrases that were spoken in English by the instructor on the tape. Set to languid shots of foliage swaying in the wind and fragments of city living, the words and sentences are repeated by an actor, whose native tongue is not English. An auxiliary soundtrack, played out in the gallery space, features the original phrases as read by the teaching voice. The contrast between the two deliveries evokes the struggle of belonging, which swings between a desire for assimilation and the impossibility of absolute integration. The words are read in rapid-fire succession, and the actor struggles to keep up, sometimes missing out phrases entirely. Sound, through the voice and language, becomes the enemy of identity.

Ellen Mara de Wachter, from exhibition catalogue for 'Arsenal: Artist Exploring the Potential of Sound as a Weapon