Skip to main content

Jutta Koether – Seasons and Sacraments


Dundee Contemporary Arts until April 21st 2013
4 stars
The back catalogue of seventeenth century painter Nicolas Poussin isn't the most obvious frame of reference for German iconoclast Jutta Koether, but when she was taken to see his The Seven Sacraments at the Scottish National Gallery, something clicked. The end result for Koether's first major show in Scotland following an appearance at the DCA as part of the Altered States of Paint group show in 2008 is this large-scale, hopelessly devoted homage/reimagining of Poussin, rebranded and rewired for a post-modern twenty-first century pop age. The fact that Koether's versions of Seasons, four paintings first shown at the Whitney Biennial in New York in 2012, and the more sculptural The Seven Sacraments, created in situ, feature bit part players such as philosopher Jacques Derrida, German racing driver and walking product placement Sebastian Vettel and the Queen adds a playful wit to the pop classicist sheen.

There's something Blakeian about The Seasons, hung in mid-air and in the round on sheets of glass in such a way that the viewer moves anti-clockwise from Winter onwards, with Vettel's appearance alluding to seasons that are about more than just the weather. Vettel is there too in The Seven Sacraments, which are all too personal interpretations of Poussin, involving pearl necklaces and the keys of Koether's own life and work as we move from 'Baptism' to 'Eucharist'. Such totems that adorn the three large sheets of glass actually more resembles tributes left after a crucifixion than the 'Confirmation' it represents. Inbetween the galleries, though only accessible from one, is 'Extreme Unction', a construction laid out in the shape of a number seven, and again laden with pop reference points. Rather than overloaded with scattershot free-associative detritus, Koether has meticulously plundered her sources to make a series of epic statements for a secular age. 

The List, March 2013

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…

Nomanslanding

Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …