Viewing KAPUT by Benedict Drew at the Walker Art Gallery, with his brilliant instalment of psychedelic colours and music combination to create an environment that appears to be straight from his imagination was an ethereal, out of mind experience.
Drew’s work seems out of place in comparison to the medieval architecture of the art gallery and the works of art in it. Nonetheless, the fluorescent image of Richard Branson in centre space really drew the attention of viewers. The space is dim, buzzing with the sound of feedback coming from the four speakers at each corner of the space setting a very eerie mood, almost like you’re about to be a part of something disturbing. Which is probably what the artist was trying to instil into his audience by his description of the exhibition to be ‘the horrors of the modern world’.
KAPUT: Richard Branson Portrait Photo Credit: Charlotte Jopling, Walker Art Gallery
Richard Branson’s portrait with orange cables that appear to explode out of his eyes and interlink with other parts of the exhibition could be interpreted to show how he is the cause of the exhibition. In the centre of the room lies a stage with what appears to be a disfigured body covered in colourful silly strings which made it look like it had exploded. It was as if civilian space travel (of which Virgin Galactic is dedicated for, founded by Richard Branson) combined with the uncertainty of technology and our relationship to it was too much for the body in the exhibition to take and just exploded. There was not much to see in this room, besides the Richard Branson portrait and the silly strings man but spending time in the space trying to take it all in sent tingles down my spine as if waiting for an impending doom. The deafening feedback noise, the flashing images on the two screens and Richard Branson staring at me was too much for me and I moved towards the second room.
The space was mostly empty apart from a large screen and three benches. The screen showed an old man in a series of episodes. It was nothing short of calm in this room, if anything, it was more intense than the first room. I willed myself to sit and try to contemplate what the old man symbolises but the darkened room and again, deafening sound effect from the video which, surprise surprise, made me feel even more uncomfortable than before. Both rooms proved to be immensely intense; achieving Drew’s intention in presenting ‘the horrors of the modern world’.
It was a hit of reality thinking about how far we’ve come in terms of technology and how much dependence we have on it and what the future holds with the possibility of technology that could probably take over our place. But, this is just my interpretation of Drew’s eye-catching exhibition. As the saying goes, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and it is up to you to decide what it really means. In light of Halloween weekend, Benedict Drew’s KAPUTis perfect to give you that added spook.
p/s: If you’re too spooked like I was, consider dropping by Looking North running alongside KAPUT, a selection of works by Mary Griffiths, Joe Fletcher Orr, Paul Rooney, Jason Thompson and Jesse Wine to shake the goosebumps off.
Don’t miss KAPUT running from 28th October 2016 all through the 26th February 2017 at the Walker Art Gallery. Remember: It’s free entry!
Photo Credit: Charlotte Jopling, Walker Art Gallery