Artist Peter Liversidge Reflects on the Berggruen Institute’s First Decade and Its Role in the Future

Amidst a global pandemic, the Berggruen Institute invited artist Peter Liversidge—whose diverse oeuvre has a singular starting point of typewritten proposals—to reflect on the Berggruen Institute’s first decade and its role in the future.

The project originated during a visit to Liversidge’s East London studio following the Institute’s delivery of its Renewing Democracy in the Digital Age report at King’s College in March of 2020, prior to lockdown. Inspired by Liversidge’s dynamic Proposals for Antarctica; Tate Modern and Tate Liverpool; and the Government Art Collection, Liversidge conducted more than 20 interviews with Berggruen Institute leadership, staff, fellows, and collaborators throughout 2020 and 2021—uniquely exploring the Institute’s history, core ideas, and plans for future work during the turbulence and polarity of the pandemic.

With the challenges that the Institute identified upon its founding now an urgent agenda: the crisis of democratic governance; the growing inequality and gaps in wealth and power; the planetary imperative of tackling climate change; and what it means to be human in an age transformed by frontier sciences and technologies—the resulting artbook binds together 50 of Peter Liversidge’s proposals into a tactile artifact to commemorate the Berggruen Institute’s tenth anniversary.

At the core of Liversidge’s Proposals for the Berggruen Institute are ideas: poetic and philosophical in the sense that they often investigate the passing of time and memory as it relates to the Institute’s diverse body of work; imaginative in their consideration of the future; sometimes playful and humorous and other times quiet and reflective; but always with the idea that they will be realised, either through individual reflection or collectively in an exhibition, installation, or performance.

“I had the unique opportunity to amplify the essence of the Berggruen Institute as part of their tenth anniversary, through proposals,” said Peter Liversidge. “The idea of a proposal involves a quintessential beginning or starting point. You propose to do something and then you either you do or don’t do it. And that potential materiality, whether it becomes a physical thing or just the idea is really key to the work. It was about the imagining space rather than the actual. And in that way, it can be anything. My version of the work is just my version, when the work is shared via the proposal book it’s what we all bring to it. That’s why this was such a fascinating project for me: to think about an organization whose very nature is set up to think in a non-linear fashion and to engage others in actualizing the ideas to build a better world, whether individually or collectively.”

Peter Liversidge’s Proposals for the Berggruen Institute were written in August of 2021 and published in limited edition with renowned artbook publisher Peter Foolen.

Peter Liversidge was born in 1973 in Lincoln, UK. Conceptually focused and spanning photography, collage, sculpture, and performance, Liversidge’s approach to his work invites collaboration and is subsequently formed by influences beyond his control; his artworks are investigations of coincidence and not limited to the language of a single medium.

Recent solo exhibitions include: Rural Time, East Quay, Watchet, Somerset; (2023) Either/Or, Kate MacGarry, London (2023); An Echo, Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh (2022); Topsy Turvy, Pavement Gallery, Manchester (2020); Sign Paintings for Belfast, The Mac, Belfast (2020); Sign Paintings for the NHS, Roman Road, E2 (2020); Working title I, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden (2018); Working title II, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden (2019); Proposals for Antarctica for the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust, Cambridge (2019); EDIFICE, COMPLEX, VISIONARY, STRUCTURE, Sean Kelly, New York, USA (2018); Proposals for The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum at The Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, USA (2017); The Bridge (A Choral Piece for Tate Modern), Tate Modern, London (2016); Notes on Protesting, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2015); Proposals for Kiasma at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Sweden (2011); Proposals for Liverpool at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool (2008).  Group exhibitions include: Out of the Margins: Performance in London’s institutions 1990s – 2010s, Whitechapel Gallery, London (2022-23); The Double: Identity and Difference in Art since 1900, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC (2022); Notes on Protesting, Kate MacGarry, London (2022); Beano: The Art of Breaking the Rules, Somerset House, London (2021); Inaspettatamente, Cloud Seven, Brussels, Belgium (2021); The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard, Artists Postcards from 1960 to now, The British Museum, London (2019).

composed by Arswain
machine learning consultation by Anna Tskhovrebov
commissioned by the Berggruen Institute
premiered at the Bradbury Building
downtown Los Angeles
april 22, 2022

Human perception of what sounds “beautiful” is necessarily biased and exclusive. If we are to truly expand our hearing apparatus, and thus our notion of beauty, we must not only shed preconceived sonic associations but also invite creative participation from beings non-human and non-living. We must also begin to cede creative control away from ourselves and toward such beings by encouraging them to exercise their own standards of beauty and collaborate with each other.

Movement I: Alarm Call
‘Alarm Call’ is a long-form composition and sound collage that juxtaposes, combines, and manipulates alarm calls from various human, non-human, and non-living beings. Evolutionary biologists understand the alarm call to be an altruistic behavior between species, who, by warning others of danger, place themselves by instinct in a broader system of belonging. The piece poses the question: how might we hear better to broaden and enhance our sense of belonging in the universe? Might we behave more altruistically if we better heed the calls of – and call out to – non-human beings?

Using granular synthesis, biofeedback, and algorithmic modulation, I fold the human alarm call – the siren – into non-human alarm calls, generating novel “inter-being” sonic collaborations with increasing sophistication and complexity. 

Movement II: A.I.-Truism
A synthesizer piece co-written with an AI in the style of Vangelis’s Blade Runner score, to pay homage to the space of the Bradbury Building.

Movement III: Alarmism
A machine learning model “learns” A.I.Truism and recreates Alarm Call, generating an original fusion of the two.

Movement IV: A.I. Call
A machine learning model “learns” Alarm Call and recreates A.I.Truism, generating an original fusion of the two.