Edinburgh Art Festival. August 2013.

I did a bit of the Art Festival today.

I went to Wind Pipes for Edinburgh, an installation in a former church (a wonderful space off the Royal Mile which I didn’t know existed!). An organ playable by visitors, made of bits of waste pipes. The deep notes had a very breathy sound, almost alive. It was driven by huge bellows, and I thought it was just wonderful.

I then went to Rose Street to see Kenny Watson’s The Days, a humorous installation of a year’s worth of Edinburgh Evening News hoardings. Taken out of context, the headlines take on a surreal meaning, illuminating the paper’s obsessions (crime, sex, perverts and dust bin collections).

What I hadn’t realised was that in an annex were videos of Complaints Choirs around the world. I had heard the Edinburgh Complaints Choir on the radio, but I hadn’t bothered to seek them out. (They were singing complaints on the Royal Mile.) Coming across these videos, I wish I had. I found them funny and illuminating. I watched four, I think: Tokyo, Birmingham, Helsinki and Hamburg. Those in foreign languages had more impact – particularly Tokyo – I think reading the words and contrasting the sounds to the complaints brings more poignancy. That said, I am completely ear-wormed by the Birmingham choir.

I loved these videos. They were so unexpected, surprising, challenging AND ordinary that they changed my perception – certainly about choirs!

Here are the videos.

Tokyo

Birmingham

Helsinki

Hamburg (not on YouTube!)

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