touch me - don't touch me, 1998

Sound installation at the Donaueschinger Musiktage (Music Festival of Donaueschingen), 1998

Installation in 4 rooms

The vaulted cellar which is directly under the castle library consists of 4 rooms that are at the same time separated from and connected with each other. Today they are brewery storerooms. In the Second World War they served as a shelter.
The installation "touch me - don't touch me" deals with feelings and conditions ranging from fear to aggression, from sleeping/dreaming to waking up, or in other words states of mind which are the conscious or unconscious result of an adult or a child perspective. In the two rooms on the right that are linked by a passage, beer barrels are piled up upright and horizontally in an apparently disordered manner and in specific groupings. Each of the 4 groupings is equipped with a loudspeaker invisibly installed between and inside the barrels. Another loudspeaker is behind a pillar in room no. 1.  A video sequence that is partly hidden by a second pillar and projected on a wall in room no. 2 shows an elderly man whose facial expressions and gestures constantly change between aggression, soothing and self-protection. He seems to do a kind of traumatic shadow boxing while remembering a dream or a real experience.

The differently positioned 5 loudspeakers in these two rooms transmit the voice of a ten-year-old boy from Iceland repeating sentence fragments in English in synchronization with the video pictures ("hit me - touch me - go away - don't touch me - hold me"). The boy’s accent and his monotonous way of speaking alter and weaken the otherwise dramatic meaning of the words. The sound coming from different directions reminds of a child playing hide-and-seek. In their meaning the man’s sometimes absurd gestures and the boy’s words contradict each other before they accord only to diverge again.    

In the two rooms on the left the playful element is replaced by an apparent order. In room no. 3 beer barrels are accurately piled up and the loudspeaker installed therein transmits at regular intervals the loud sound of a barrel falling over.

In room no. 4 the barrels are gone. The place is empty except for a big object that is made out of rolls of industrial sheep’s wool fleece and reminds of a bed.  A reflex loudspeaker installed between the fleece layers transmits the voice of a man (Dieter Korthals) who cites literary sentence fragments dealing with the notions of sleep and dream. The quotations are taken from books and papers of the castle library that is situated above the vaulted cellar. Most of the quotations were written by Joseph Viktor Scheffel who was in charge of the library from 1857-59.
(J.V.Scheffel: Zwischen Pflicht und Neigung - Briefe ins Elternhaus (Between duty and pleasure – Letters home),  Hrsg. (Publisher): Dr. W. Zeutner, Karlsruhe 1946).

actor & speaker: Dieter Korthals, (actor, Berlin)
speaker: Siggi Steingrimsson (10 years, Iceland)