Static Gallery / Liverpool Biennial
Karl-Heinz Klopf has a keen interest in the built environment of cities. Everyday life excites him. He walks a lot and loves talking to people. Along the way he picks up stories, observations and tries to make connections between people and what he sees and hears.
Over the last five months he has walked and talked across Everton, Anfield and Breckfield in North Liverpool meeting extraordinary people in neighbourhoods trapped in transformation. With much of the area undergoing regeneration many of their stories describe previous attempts to improve conditions against the backdrop of a declining population. There are not only stories, but also paintings, petitions, flyers and other publications record these struggles for (and against) change. You’re Having a Laugh brings the people, their stories, objects and artworks together.
Klopf sees connections. There is a network of interwoven social groups encountered by him during his residency is presented diagrammatically on an oversized black board – in chalk. The diagram is supported by sketch-books, drawings, videos and some very special objects found and loaned for the occasion.
Consider the city as a state of mind and the diagram as the beginning of a map. We understand how the disappearance of the build environment has a powerful effect on community not just in space but also in our ability to connect through time. To stand in front of the house where your grandmother once lived is also to be with her. If in doubt, feel supported by the Viennese psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud who likened the historical layers of the city to our subconscious. We need the layers to activate our knowledge, trigger the imagination and grab hold of opportunities – in our minds and in our environment.
You’re Having a Laugh is thus a set of starting points, fragments of perspectives set up like a stage-set to be performed. “I have met so many passionate people, determined to create opportunity and change in their neighbourhoods. My installation aims to present the links between them all in the context of a great night out. The title You’re Having a Laugh itself is considered as another fragment in the patchwork of the project. The whole picture of the event matches somehow my picture of the city of Liverpool.”
(You’re Having a Laugh, an installation – exhibition – performance – party by Karl-Heinz Klopf, with Frank Green, the Young Kicks and Sam Avery; Static Gallery / Liverpool Biennial, January 2010)