In Prenzlauer Berg, Singuhr Sound Gallery Faces Last Season

Aug 2, 2013

The former water reservoir in Prenzlauer Berg, known as the Wasserturm, stands on a small hill.

Children run and laugh out in the sunlight, but inside the damp and dark underbelly of the reservoir, Carsten Seiffarth, curator of the Singuhr Sound Gallery, is looking through his collection of sound art.

“Everything we do with the artists in sound art is space or situation specific, so everything is dedicated to the space," Seiffarth says.

The Singuhr Gallery has two installations that use sound from acoustics of the reservoir. The first is "Aeolian Circles," created by the British artist Max Eastley. 

“This is a huge space. On the top on the little hill is a little tower," Seiffarth explains. "The artist installed a wind harp. This organ harp is transmitted into the space here.”

The wind-generated harp creates a dense sonic landscape which is broken up by occasional sounds from objects like a wood block or a foil that shudders against the brick wall. 

“Because the space is so huge, you have like 18 seconds of hall reverberation, so every small event is becoming a big one. You see sometimes nothing. It’s really dark. You hear everyday another composition of nature, of the wind.”

German-born artist Jens Brand and curator Carsten Seiffarth stand outside the Singuhr Sound Gallery.
Credit Anouschka Pearlman / for NPR Berlin

There’s an adjacent, smaller reservoir where a second installation is set up. It’s called “Raumarbeit II," created by German-born artist Jens Brand. His installation is modeled after an 18th century tellurian, a device that mimics planetary rotation. In the center is a small machine with a motor and microphone, and an arm with a mirror orbits it rhythmically.  

“It’s a machine that performs the space," Brand says. "So we have different circles that keep moving, reinterpreting, and redefining the space with its walls, but also with us. "

On the outer ring is a cannon ball-looking object that orbits around on a rail.

“This one moves very close to the arches and sometimes these arches cause the frequency to feedback. You would say in physical terms:  the space falls around the machine," Brand says.

Sound galleries, however exciting, are still a rarity.

"We are world-wide unique because this kind of project gallery, we produce four to five installations in special spaces," Seiffarth says.

"I don’t know any place anywhere in the world who do this."

In spite of its uniqueness, Singuhr Gallery is facing its last season. It’s also the last time they'll have sound pieces in the Wasserturm. Funding is increasingly difficult to find, so Seiffarth says they will continue on a project-by-project basis.

Visitors can still see these Wasserturm installations until September 22nd.