It's Always the Others Who Die
@ The Koppel Project
Review by Pippa Brooks
IT'S ALWAYS THE OTHERS WHO DIE is a collaborative installation by Louise Ashcroft, Nicholas Abrahams and Nicholas Pankhurst, running throughout the cavernous former bank vault, now art-space, The Koppel Project on Baker Street.
The three artists' work is similarly dark and humorous, as the press release calls it: "A collective funeral wake for the living", and all three enjoy challenging and disorientating the viewer. The odd space, still complete with reinforced, armoured doors is really well utilised by them all - a sleeping fox contributed by Abrahams is only just seen through the crack of a just-open safe door for instance.
As a whole, the show has the feeling of a happening in many ways. Peering through Pankhurst's tin foil snake-like construction which was made on site to fit tightly into one of the slim walkways, you can see Abraham's flickering video of electronic images made on long obsolete video equipment for Add (N) to X. Ashcroft's pieces inhabit a claustrophobic vault all of their own; a video of the artist drooling and spitting out endless teeth on a loop is disturbing and hilarious, her collages and assemblages are funny, her overall message gently disruptive.
There is a beautiful feeling of the hand-made, of making unexpected associations between materials and found objects to create new stories and there is a strong element of performance. Abrahams has collected vintage photographs featuring incongruous polar bears and ominous shadows which might have a dark narrative. SS officers joke with someone in a polar bear suit and all is not well in the world. It's funny and sad, and if it makes you uncomfortable, know that the artist sometimes wanders through the show dressed in a polar bear suit.
The title of the show is the inscription on Marcel Duchamp's grave, and this show engages the mind in ways in which the late conceptualist would have approved. The centrepiece of the show, Un Chat Andalou, by Abrahams and Pankhurst, is an imagined response by Duchamp to Luis Buñuel's 1928 surrealist film Un Chien Andalou. Pankhurst's work is a combination of sculpture, painting and sound; the recognisable segues in to the abstract and the palette is lurid then monochrome. His is a dreamlike, imaginary landscape which inhabits the space and like much of the other work might symbolise something or nothing.
They might be messing around, they might be highly conceptual, they might be both. A brilliantly anarchic show... go!
The Koppel Project
93 Baker Street
London W1U 6RL
GALLERY OPENING TIMES: Monday-Friday 10am-6pm Saturday 12pm-6pm
Until 5th September 2016