The Resounding Bell
29 March–11 May 2019
An excerpt from a conversation between Rory Pilgrim and Wolfgang Tillmans.
Wolfgang Tillmans: Where does the name The Resounding Bell come from, the work that I saw at the South London Gallery last year?
Rory Pilgrim: Actually, the name was the first thing that I came up with. Before I thought about it, I just thought of the name. My favourite novel is The Bell by Iris Murdoch. She is a writer who mainly started in the fifties, a post-war writer. She is probably the most prolific British writer from that period and had this amazing ability to write about the inner lives of people. This title of the book and the image of the bell has always been important to me. The bell as a symbol of a collective ringing and marking of time which is not just a pause, like in mourning, but alerts an emergency.
The “resounding” came partly because the original commission for the work had to explore local heritage. I felt the best way to deal with this was working through history as an experience of ‘resounding’. In the current state in the UK where things are so broken, this feeling of resonance felt really important. When you say something ‘resounds’ with you, it implies a form of kinship, like an affinity. It touches you.
WT: That is what the work did to me: it had such resonance in me. Without knowing exactly what I was looking at. As you start watching, you do not quite know what is going on. You do not know that this is all about an intergenerational dialogue. I enjoyed, as I kept watching and listening, that it became sort of richer and richer in this reaching out, reaching forwards and backwards in time. Interestingly, it was also a lot around technology and the war. Somehow that is what I pick up, but the word “Brexit” is not mentioned, is it?
RP: I kind of see it as one of the successes but also maybe as a failure in the work when it is such an important moment. It did come up in the workshops and there was mixed voting records or opinions within the group. But as a way to go beyond it, it was important to acknowledge it, but not bring that word even into the work. I do not know if it sounds too light, but I felt the best way to deal with what is happening in the UK right now is to try and connect people on a very human level. I feel personally so much of the problem of what is unfolding, constantly, not just in the UK but elsewhere is this complete failure in our structures of speech and dialogue. And so, in a way, the work is trying to kind of create a form of dialogue in which there is a sort of conscious mediation through technology, because technology is especially so important in how it is both connecting and dividing people. In the work you feel it’s fragility, but hopefully also something transformative.
WT: What is so touching about The Resounding Bell is the gentleness of dialogue, because it is based on listening. You are asking something, but you are not just asking to hear yourself speak which is often the point of talking or asking. Here, they ask because they actually do want to have an answer, have a response.
Closing event of the exhibition:
Saturday, 11 May 2019, from 3pm
Beyond The Echo
Concluding Rory Pilgrim’s exhibition The Resounding Bell, Between Bridges will host a public dialogue and live online broadcast including spoken word and music. Echoing the dialogue in London that forms the basis of the exhibition, the event brings together a group of young people with an intergenerational council of people ranging from 31 to 83 years old. With the two groups meeting separately and in private over a series of 3 workshops, they have so far asked questions to one another through a series of recordings exploring questions about the past, present and future that is important to them in a rhythm of call and response.
Exploring a practice known as 7th Generation Guardianship, the closing event will bring together the groups in real time to share stories and questions to explore how we take action and listen to one another across generations. Interwoven with music with British singer Robyn Haddon, the dialogue will also be live streamed online with a special viewing also taking place at South London Gallery Fire Station where The Resounding Bell began. In a time characterised by a culture of nostalgia to return, the dialogue hopes to explore how we truly ‚resound’ the past in order to mark the present and shape our collective futures for generations to come.
If you are unable to get to Between Bridges you can tune in anywhere in the world to Beyond The Echo via Youtube. The closing event Beyond The Echo is developed in cooperation with the P14 Youth Theater of the Volksbühne Berlin.