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Drag City will honor David Berman with an art show in Chicago

Songs Build Little Rooms in Time will feature art from Friedrich Kunath and a Cassie Berman performance.

November 14, 2019
Drag City will honor David Berman with an art show in Chicago Me is my nickname for myself   Michael Schmelling / FADER

The artist Friedrich Kunath published a book in 2013 featuring photographs and reproductions of his art paired with new David Berman lines left over from his writing for Silver Jews. Berman and Kunath had again been working together on a new project when Berman died in August, according to his label Drag City and as Pitchfork notes. The two had “would find things to show and tell between themselves and in the process, create a collaborative show.” The show—called Songs Build Little Rooms in Time after a Purple Mountains lyric— will now go on without Berman, though in his honor, and with plenty of his material. It will feature Kunath material inspired by Berman, and a performance by Berman’s former bandmate and wife Cassie Berman. It’s at December 7, at Drag City’s Soccer Club Club in Chicago.

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Drag City/Soccer Club Club, in collaboration with Blum & Poe, is pleased to announce Friedrich Kunath’s Songs Build Little Rooms in Time. Opening on December 7th, 2019, reception begins 7 PM- 11 PM with special musical performance by Cassie Berman. Around 2012, David Berman and Friedrich Kunath collaborated actively together on the book, You Owe Me a Feeling, with David providing notebooks to Friedrich from which he derived text for the finished work. Several years later, they would find things to show and tell between themselves and in the process, create a collaborative show. David forwarded recordings that became the eventual Purple Mountains album, and between their shared interests, they had plenty of common ground. In the course of their correspondence, David sent additional words and images from his travels on the road toward finishing the Purple Mountains album as well as pictures of the Soccer Club Club, the space which he loved to commandeer when in Chicago (whether it was offered or not). This collaboration was successful—with more than enough material to work with, Friedrich was deep in his process, relocating these expressions outside of their natural habitat. The painter was in the final stages of this work when David unexpectedly passed. The nature of the show is somber, as anything derived from the source material of David’s final songs might be—but the playfulness, the romance of sudden discovery penetrating ennui that is central to both Friedrich and David’s work is there as well. This work casts the contrasts of American life that fascinated David, with high and low values revolving in imperfect accord with the small details and dream-like juxtaposition of inner and outer landscapes that makes Kunath’s work its own. All these things (and more that cannot be said here), form the seventeen new works that make Songs Build Little Rooms in Time—a remix album of sorts in the lives of David Berman and Friedrich Kunath.

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Drag City will honor David Berman with an art show in Chicago