The Singing Telegram Show
The Pablo Helguera Singing Telegram Show was a project designed to engage the general passersby audiences from the town of Brewster, as part of a weekend series of art interventions entitled The Brewster Project, in 2001.
The project consisted in the presentation of a small stand outside of a local bar, in the form of an old-time Western Union telegram service center, where I stood with a speakerphone, a boom box, a guitar, a number of phone cards, and a menu of songs with message forms to be filled out by anyone- offering to deliver free sung telegrams over the phone, anywhere in the world. Visitors could choose a song and also request specific messages to be inserted into the song. This project became a major attraction to local residents, some of which sent telegrams to their next-door neighbor, and others requesting calls as far as Shanghai and Belgrade. Originally scheduled for only one or two hours, I kept fulfilling message requests for as long as seven hours. That Christmas I was invited by the town to present this performance again.
I regard this project as one of the few instances where I felt that my role as artist shifted from being the focus of the work to becoming a true instrument or bridge, helping people connect. Here, what became important was the dialogue that any two persons would have at either end of the line, reviving an old form of communication that the information age has largely extinguished, and in a way, rediscovering the human dimension that text-messaging has not quite yet replaced. (PH)