Only here for the beer?

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The Independent Online
"Karaoke - 4 for 4 and 2 to 2 too" is the title of the new exhibition at the South London Gallery. Initially billed as being "inspired by the twin concepts of karaoke and football", the organisers have since decided that the German artist who came up with this explanation failed to understand the meaning of karaoke. Sixteen artists from Switzerland, Germany and the UK arrived empty-handed at the gallery one week before the show and were given pounds 150 each for materials. There followed a chaotic week of scavenging, scrounging and improvising, along the themes of collaboration and communication - not helped by the donation of 600 bottles of beer from the sponsors, Becks. "Until the very last minute, it didn't look like there was a show," says David Thorpe, gallery director. "But it came together at the end." The beer ran out on the Thursday.

The first impression is of chaos, but gradually something emerges. Suspended above the centre of the space is a giant latex German flag, attached by pulleys to makeshift levers on the walls. The flag is counterweighted with what looks like a small island of painted steel wool. "I think it's a piece of territory," confides Thorpe. "I think it's a democratic spaceship," confides one of the artists. "It's a game for four people, each pulling their lever." He says it is not about reunification, or the four powers tugging at cold-war Berlin, "because the artists are Swiss".

South London Gallery, 65 Peckham Road, SE5 (0171-703 6120) to 20 Aug

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