Before studying Fine Art at the Ruskin Oxford University and Cinema at the Sorbonne in Paris, British artist Oliver Beer trained as a musician at the Academy of Contemporary Music in London. The diversity of his background is reflected in a sensitivity to the relationship between sound and space. The physical and emotional value of places and objects are central to Beer’s practice, which takes the form of performance, film, sculpture, and sound work. He often creates site-specific compositions out of the frequencies that buildings produce according to their dimensions and geometry. By recording what he calls ’the voice of architecture’, Beer’s work explores our sensory encounter with sound, as well as the spaces and objects through which they are produced.
Included in the Zabludowicz Collection is Retraining (2009), a film commissioned by the Saatchi Gallery New Sensations Prize. Directed and written by the artist, the work shows a group of counselling trainees listening attentively to an actress playing a woman whose mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The proximity of the camera emphasises emotional tension and reveals our latent physical responses to listening.