Author: Lynn MacRitchie
The London Financial Times, Monday October 20, 2003
Sue de Beer
Are you sitting comfortably? Well, you won't be for long. The archetypal teen bedroom, all pink shag pile carpet and giant stuffed animals, which young American artist Sue de Beer has created in her installation "Hans & Grete" at KW Berlin, soon becomes a pretty uncomfortable place to be.
For the bedroom wall doubles as a huge video screen, and de Beer takes visitors on a split screen trip deep into the heads of four teenagers, two boys and two girls. We listen to their innermost thoughts as they sit bored in school, wander through the dark woods and just hang around in the on-screen version of the claustrophobic bedroom set, playing air guitar, having sex, reading magazines and thinking about their lives.
Part fairy story, part horror movie, de Beer makes us listen to what might just be running through the minds of those teenage shooters who do all the messy, ordinary, banal teen things and then get up the next day, go to school, take out a gun and wipe out their classmates.
And having worked in Germany for the last year - the piece was made while de Beer was the Phillip Morris fellow at the American Academy in Berlin - she makes a connection between the pasty-faced bedroom psychos of her homeland and their older German cousins, the middle class radicals of the Baader Meinhof gang.
Written down like this, it all sounds very heavy, very portentious. But de Beer's skill, supported by he excellent writing and acting team, is to make her points exactly the way her youthful protagonists might have made them: laid back, cool and funny, with lots of sex and terrible rock 'n roll.
The most striking thing about the video, and the insight it offers, is how sad they are.
The youngsters she shows are afflicted with a melancholy as deep as Shakespeare's Hamlet, the subject they are shown studying in school, and cannot bear the thought that all those human connections they are having such trouble making will one day be broken forever and that, ultimately, their lives will be forgotten.
They might be, but Sue de Beer is at the beginning of what should be a career well worth watching.