Freya Hattenberger & Peter Simon

Freya & Peter - Profile © Cordula Kaltenbrunn Freya Hattenberger and Peter Simon are graduates of the Academy of Media Art/ Kunsthochschule für Medien, Cologne.

Freya Hattenberger received the Karl Schmidt-Rottluff Bursary and the NRW prize for emerging artists in media art. Further scholarships and multiple residencies were held in France. Mainly performative, body and (social) space are the central aspects of photography, video performances, video and sound installations. Sound and the use of voice are key elements of her work. She is particularly interested in questions of representation, behaviour and autonomy.

Peter Cezary Simon focuses on sound art, time-based media and installation. His works are in the collection IMAI - intermedia art institute Düsseldorf and also part of the permanent collection of the ZKM Center for Art and Media Technology Karlsruhe. As a curator he organised the sound art programme "Lautsprecher" in Museum Ostwall Dortmund from 2010 - 2015. In 2018 he received together with Freya Hattenberger and Marita Loosen-Fox the Gerd Ruge-Stipend of the Film- und Medienstiftung NRW.  His key activities are sound ecology, psycho acoustics, bio acoustics, and their impact on society and individuals.

In addition to their own artistic work, Freya and Peter have both been cooperating since 2008 as a sound-art performance duo named "Les Éclairs" interrogating questions of space, resonance, feedback and social constellations. Their field of work includes sculptural sound and video installations, sound installations in public space, multi-channel sound compositions, performances and radio plays, as well as documentary forms of the auditive, like essays and features (eg for Studio Acoustic Art WDR, Bavarian Radio (BR), NDR and Deutschlandradio Kultur).
"MEANDER TAPES - Tender Sounds For Brutalist Architecture" is a project dealing with sound, performance and architecture in an interdisciplinary manner. As sound artists, composers and media artists they have long been concerned with the interaction between the audible and the visible - as well the invisible side of architecture. In direct dialogue with brutalist architecture, they realise acoustic interventions and sound performances on site. They create a connection which takes into account specific acoustic and formal spatial characteristics as well as the socio-historic context.

After Meander Tapes sessions in Cologne, Düsseldorf and Bochum, Peter and Freya plan to spot modernist buildings in Bangalore and trace their significance in public-political processes. Charles Correa is a highly significant architect, globally and for India. His work is the physical manifestation of modernity and progress. The Visvesvaraya Centre represents a crossroads of traditions and gives opportunity for a more than fruitful project. With acoustic interactions on site at the Visvesvaraya Centre and recordings of these sessions, they wish to realise a new Meander Tape in Bangalore. Their particular interest is exploring the geometric order, materiality, social status, emotional link of the building and the fluid reality of Indian culture, focusing on sound as ornament.

Architecture is experimentally "reconsidered" by the medium of sound and extended in its perception. Taping the acoustic fingerprint of Visvesvaraya Center allows them to get in exchange and collaboration with residents, local artists, musicians and the students of Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology. In their project they consider the interaction of place, architecture, people and their lives. The edition of a new Bangalore Meander Tape on cassette will reflect that. In collaboration with CEMA at Srishti Institute, they will give lectures and a workshop about the results of their research.

Final Report

1 Shanthi Road © Freya Hattenberger & Peter Simon Prologue
It is late and our bones hurt from sitting for a long time. Bleary-eyed from the flight but stimulated by the excitement of the journey, we stumble through passport control to begin our residency in Bangalore. As soon as we have balanced the suitcases from the belt and stepped through the door into the lobby of the hypermodern airport, we are already warmly received. Marie from the Goethe-Institut greets us, bestows us with fabulously fragrant flower garlands around our necks and presents us with a "Survival bag" with the Goethe-Institut logo. A quick photo for the memories and we set off to the accommodation.

On the drive through the early morning, Marie gives us the first pieces of vital information and dates for the coming days - I try to remember everything in detail and at the same time to develop a feeling for the city passing behind the windows. Although the blackness of night wears, it still does not seem to rest.

Arriving at 1 Shanthi Road, Sandeep TK helps us carry our suitcases up the steep, red spiral staircase. A good-humored smile lies on his face, despite the night-time and weight of the suitcase. In our room fresh water, a fruit plate, friendliness. Everything is fine, we have arrived - now the bones can finally lengthen again..
Phase 1
We are on the bus, traveling with the group. Dr. Claus Heimes, Maureen Gonsalves, Marie, Nandita, Riya, the other residents and us. The programme for the first week is tightly timed. This is the first time we have experienced what it means to drive through this city by bus. A challenge!

The driver seems to be immersed in a deep meditation while the storm is raging outside the bus window. Everything moves at the same time, a permanent sound carpet of car horns and engine noise covers the scenery. Every little gap is used, and if possible, sometimes even in the oncoming traffic. We are glad that we do not have to drive ourselves.

The programme, which the Goethe-Institut puts together, is very diverse. We attend plays, concerts, meet dance directors, journalists and architects like Naresh Narasimhan, who will help us later. We exchange views as we visit his renovation of the National Gallery of Modern Art.

Nachmittagskaffee in der 1 Shanthi Road © Freya Hattenberger & Peter Simon Phase 2
Week 2 at 1 Shanthi Road. Our acclimatisation has now been successful. The cook Devi spoils us in our accommodation with Indian delicacies and makes us so well acquainted with the spices. "We ususally eat very mild" Suresh says and smiles. We sit at the table sweating and with tears in our eyes - and smile back. "Whoever gets a hiccup first, has lost" is our internal game. It is nice and inspiring to be able to speak so informally here. Daliha Ziper, another bangaloREsident, is not the only other resident housed at 1 Shanthi Road with us. Shun from Japan also has a residency here, many artists and friends of the house go in and out and enrich the atmosphere. We make a plan. What, when and how should our project be done? We sort out our preparations for audio and video recordings, recharge batteries and pack backpacks. Monah sings Krishna - Mantras on the roof. The crows are singing back.
1 day later: after a night of rain it is wonderfully sunny and a pleasant wind brings freshness to the city. Ramli, also good soul of the house, serves us delicious dosas and coffee with chicory for breakfast. Well-fortified and prepared, we start our first location, the Visvesvaraya Towers in the heart of Bangalore. It is a brutalist building that now houses several state ministries, a lottery, and many other institutions with long and incomprehensible names. We play the naive card - and get lucky.

We meet the building manager, who takes us without many questions directly to the roof of the highest tower. There we can orientate ourselves and get an overview. We are allowed to take pictures as well. Immediately the unadorned beauty of the concrete towers strikes us. The basic design stretches strictly through the entire building, from the lobby to the proportions of the staircase. Unfortunately, there is not enough time for all our ideas and so we agree that we will come back. When we are back on their doormat after a week, the reception is very cordial and we can spread our equipment and collect a lot of exciting material for our project. We are thrilled with the openness of the people and the sophisticated structure of the building - and radiate with the sun at our fortune.
Phase 3

The architect Naresh Narasimhan, whom we met in the first week through the Goethe-Institute, recommends another building. His father P.K. Venkataramanan, also an architect, built the library for the Raman Research Institute, a research centre for experimental physics, in a brutalist style from 1972-1978. Marie sends an official request, from library (of the Goethe-Institut) to library. We call Dr. B. M. Meera, the director of the library, and make an appointment on the spot to talk.

The building is located on a sealed off area in the north of the city in the middle of a small eucalyptus grove. We walk through fresh air and marvel at the sky-high trees as we walk the last 300 meters from the well-guarded driveway to the library. The traffic noise decreases, the city is only perceptible as a diffused noise carpet. The library virtually merges with the surroundings and is imposing and delicate, at the same time a bolt of concrete and glass between the trunks.

We pass through a rectangular concrete arch and stand in the entrance hall, which is before  the large reading room. Here, in the library, you can only hear the rustling leaves of pages of books. The indoor climate is pleasant, we stand between bookshelves on one side and the tree trunks on the other side of the wall-high window front. What a beautiful building!
In conversation with Dr. B. M. Meera about our artistic project, we get along well and she gives us permission to take pictures. We are glad!
Phase 4

After feedback from Naresh, we are grateful for his advice and would like to know more about the building. Surprisingly, he asks us why we do not simply ask his father. After all, he still lives in Bangalore and would certainly be happy to talk to us.

Of course, the best place for this conversation would be the library itself. B. M. Meera is pleased to reopen the door for us. She also has questions for the architect of her workplace. His explanations and information perfectly complement our collection of materials and research.

Phase 5
Before we know it, the time in Bangalore comes to an end. Sooner than expected, we sit at the final presentation, which we do together with Daliah Ziper at 1 Shanthi Road.
The room is full, outside the monsoon patters down while still more drenched visitors flock into the hall. Many photos and video and audio recordings explain our work approach. We show excerpts from the interview with P.K. Venkataramanan. Interesting, intelligent questions complete the evening. Suresh, Sandeep, Ramli, Monah and Devi make a delicious buffet. The plates and plates of food empty quickly, the atmosphere is warm and relaxed. Too bad that in a few days our stay is over. Just when we started to understand... Some questions are still open and we would like to know more about the country and its people. Maybe there will be another opportunity in the future.

The parting will not be easy then. 1 Shanthi Road has been incredibly supportive of our project and various everyday issues. It is this relaxed and attentive attitude that we will soon miss.

We would also like to thank you for this wonderful residency at the Goethe-Institut: Claus Heimes, Maureen, Marie, Nandita and Riya. With the team of 1 Shanthi Road, Srishti Institute of Art and Design, Venkataramanan Associates and of course Dr. B. M. Meera.