25 Dec – 7 Jan








18/11/17 – 13/01/18



dive for dreams

or a slogan may topple you
    -ee cummings

Otto Berchem’s work explores social and visual codes, focusing on the relationships between language, architecture, history and poetry. His practice employs a wide variety of media, including painting, video, photography, and public interventions; which are all represented in his fifth solo show at Ellen de Bruijne Projects. Dive for Dreams is a continuation of the ideas and themes from his previous exhibition (Revolver, 2013), and revives the performative aspect of the Dating Market, his first solo show with Ellen de Bruijne, in 2000.

With this body of work the artist continues his investigation of signs, human relations and codes, using his chromatic alphabet and exploring different possibilities with it. Berchem’s code is inspired by the writings of Uruguayan Jorge Adoum and Vladimir Nabokov, Peter Saville’s designs for the first three New Order albums, and the condition of Synaesthesia.

Through the use of this alphabet, Berchem has proposed a series of works reviewing iconic images, re-interpreting them by strategically, deleting the preexisting meanings and slogans, and replacing them with his own interpretation. 

…when I try to explain my problems,
I shall speak, not of self, but of geography.
– Pablo Neruda, We Are Many

As an American artist who has lived abroad for most of his life, it is important for Berchem’s practice to create relations between centers of power and what has historically been arbitrarily assumed as periphery. With the video Inverted Americas Berchem evokes Joaquín Torres Garcías’ 1943 drawing América Invertida, depicting an upside South America. By channeling one of Torres Garcias’ more renown contributions to modern art history, Berchem questions the notion of identity and the clichés of nationality and territory.

The truth is that mass demonstrations are rehearsals for revolution: not strategic or even tactical ones, but rehearsals of revolutionary awareness. 
    – John Berger, The Nature of Mass Demonstrations

If we understand a protest as a rehearsal for Revolution, a type of performatic activity using the public space as a stage, any element used with it has its own symbology depending on the nature of the protest. Brooms have been related to manifestations linked to corruption, or in demonstrations against social ills, such as racism, xenophobia, colonialism, etc. In this particular situation Berchem appropriates the symbol of a broom and connects it with the Barres de boisrond of André Cadere, and with it he traces the links between the history of art, its revolutionary moments, and the need to manifest dissent within the current state of contemporary society.



Preview opening 
th November 17.00 – 19.00

Opening during Amsterdam Art Weekend
24th November 17.00 – 21.00

Performance during Amsterdam Art Weekend
th November 18:30 – 19:00 hrs

18 Nov – 13 Jan, 2018






18/11/17 – 13/01/18




A Beautiful Living Thing (Dir. Ross Birrell, 2015)

Let every artist strive to make his flower a beautiful living thing, something that will convince the world that there may be, there are, things more precious more beautiful – more lasting than life itself.’ C R Mackintosh “Seemliness” (Glasgow, 1902) 

On 23 May 2014 the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building of The Glasgow School of Art suffered a devastating accidental fire. Due to the actions of the Scottish Fire & Rescue Services the main building structure survived. Regrettably, however, the world-renowned Mackintosh Library was lost.

Taking its title from Mackintosh’s own description of a work of art, Ross Birrell’s film A Beautiful Living Thing – shot in late December 2014 and early January 2015 – documents the destruction of the library and the fire-damaged building and features a composition for solo violin by Birrell performed inside the ruined library by Bill Chandler (RSNO).

A Beautiful Living Thing was devised and directed by Ross Birrell, filmed in collaboration with Hugh Watt, and produced by Jo Crotch.

Medium: HD video
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Duration: 14 min

Ross Birrell is an artist, writer and lecturer.  Current practice-led research revolves around the interrelations of art, philosophy, place, politics and music in the production of a series of solo and collaborative films, installation, site-specific interventions, text works, recordings, music compositions, writing. Birrell’s previous work demonstrates a long-standing portfolio, which combines film, music and installations. He has become particularly fascinated with the relationship of music and place. His work includes site-specific compositions for the bomb- damaged Spiegelsaal, Claerchens Ballhaus, Berlin, the Non-Catholic Cemetery Rome and the Burgkirche St. Romanus, Raron. This research has been widely exhibited internationally.

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