Saturday the 8th of September marks the opening of two commissions by Liverpool Biennial for the London 2012 festival. These two commissions are to be housed in the Liverpool ONE area and will be explorations into the way the city uses its space and how the recent changes to the area have affected the behaviour of the city’s residents. One of the two pieces is Oded Hirsch’s The Lift, housed just around the corner from The Bluecoat Arts Centre. Being a physical sculpture of a lift bursting forth from the ground, the piece will no doubt attract much attention after its unveiling and is already generating interest from passers by who seem curious as to what is hidden behind the covered fencing.
As the pieces open at the weekend, the unveiling sees an array of hands on family activities based around the two pieces. For Hirsch’s piece, freelance artist Karen Green will be leading mobile drawing sessions, perhaps re-evaluating the space and readjusting to the lack of logic The Lift demands. These activities are from 12:00 till 14:00 and there is no cost. For more information about this year’s Biennial family activities visit the family & learning activities page on the official Liverpool Biennial website.
As part of Liverpool Biennial Volunteer Media Team, I managed to catch up with two members of Hirsch’s team almost straight after the install had been finished. Yael Rechter and Ran Beirak were part of Hirsch’s team who built the work in the artist’s absence and I was keen to ask them about the piece and how the install went.
Interview with Yael Rechter and Ran Beirak.
How have you found this installation and has it differed at all to Hirsch’s previous works?
Ran: It’s connected. It’s the same line going through all of his works. I can see it as I know Oded and so it’s just a bit bizarre (laughs). It’s always a team work. All his works are teamworks. I cannot say I’ve done a job, no one can. It’s a teamwork. But it’s also Oded Hirsch all the time. He’s an unbelievable and remarkable person. I love this person. I’ve never worked with someone like this. It’s a pleasure and it’s a team work.
Have you missed his presence here while installing then?
Ran: Yeah, yeah.
Yael: Of course.
Does it affect the way you go about building the piece for him then?
Ran: Well he was present as you see! (Holds up laptop).
Yael: (Laughs) Today you can actually do that, like long distance installation!
Do you think it would have had an effect if he was here in person? Would it change anything in particular about the work?
Ran: I think so. I don’t know how much. We’ve done as much as possible but when he’s present it’s a bit better yeah. I hope so.
To Yael- So is your position a managerial one?
Yael: Not exactly. Ran did all the design with Oded so Oded obviously has the vision but Ran worked with him to make it come true.
Ran: Actually the architecture we did together. It’s a together work. I cannot take anything for myself you know?
Yael: And then here on site, Ran was of course also the guy who was leading all of the installation and the practical, technical parts. He’s a master at welding and electrics, seriously he’s a really great guy and without him it wouldn’t have happened. I managed the artistic aspect of the project and so for instance the angles, the different possibilities. For example the placing of the lift. One of the major challenges was making it look like it was happening in real life. I mean you don’t usually have elevators erupting from the ground.
Was making it realistic the main aim of the installation then?
Yael: Well I guess it was. It didn’t have to be completely realistic but it had to convince you that there was some sense of movement through the angle and the way it’s framed in the square.
Ran: It’s as illogical as possible. We broke all the slabs and made it real but not logically realistic.
Perhaps you could speak a little about the meanings behind the piece and the ideas Hirsch is trying to convey to the viewer?
Ran: It’s all now on YouTube!
Yael: Yes! There is actually a guy on YouTube who narrates Oded’s work in general, saying “it can’t be! It’s just a coincidence, there’s just a lift coming out of the ground”.
So the main aim was to disrupt the logic of the area?
Yael: I would say that the main idea of this sculpture as I see it and also how I think as Oded sees it, is that consumerism is making the world very identical. So the idea was to make and create something where it looks like something has gone wrong. Something that makes you think and feel, in this very beautiful and inviting area, something has just slightly gone wrong.
Ran: This is something that is very common (i.e. lifts). There’s even one in here (points at the lift in the building).
So something that is naturally in the area?
Ran: It’s an industrial elevator. There is no lift like this but we’ve presented it pretty well. Usually lifts outside are made out of glass. Very few people make lifts like this.
Yael: It is a mock up. It’s made out of very heavy materials like black tin etc. Very industrial.
So could you tell us about any of your experiences installing the work and whether anything interesting or strange happened?
Yael: We’ve had tons of people continuously asking about it! Non-stop. Some people asked whether someone was killed there!
Ran: People were asking “Did it come out or fall down?” (laughs).
Yael: A lot of people you see are looking up to see where it fell from but of course there’s nothing up there.
So what is the main reaction you’re after?
Ran: It’s meant to make people ask.
Yael: Even just to ask in general. It doesn’t matter what they ask, just to question something. I think when you’re in a convenient shopping centre the question that you think about is usually “What are you going to buy?” rather than “What’s happening in the world?”
Adam Scovell is the editor for the Biennial Volunteer Media Team as well as a volunteer for the 2012 festival itself. He is about to enter his third year at the University of Liverpool studying music but specialising in film music. When not obsessively watching and writing about film, he makes his own shorts and runs his own website at www.celluloidwickerman.com .