Artist: Sam Keogh
Exhibition title: Eurocopter EC135
Venue: Dortmunder Kunstverein, Dortmund, Germany
Date: June 4 – August 14, 2016
Photography: Simon Vogel, images copyright and courtesy of the artists and Dortmunder Kunstverein
‘Supposedly, after Versace was shot by Andrew Cunanan on the morning of July 15th 1997 on the coral stone steps of his mansion, a fan rushed over and tore a Versace ad from a copy of Vogue magazine and started mopping up Versace’s blood with it to make a kind of souvenir. That decision must have been made very quickly, to use an image printed on glossy non-absorbent Vogue paper to mop up the still wet blood, still not congealed, but after his body had been taken away, but before it dried in the mid July Florida sunshine, and still not soaked into the porous surface of the coral stone steps of his mansion.’
Sam Keogh (born 1985, Ireland) works with installation, sculpture, performance, drawing and collage. In recent work his installations are built to facilitate a performance which morphs sculpture into props and collage into mnemonic devices or surfaces to be read as a half improvised pictorial script.
For his new exhibition ‘Eurocopter EC135′, Keogh is presenting an installation of drawings, sculpture and performance which knots together the murder of Versace, police helicopters and the red marble clad lobby of Dortmund’s Unique Hotel.
Elliptical forms float beneath a layer of transparent plastic which coats the entire gallery floor. They variously depict an obscured face framed by serpentine locks and the key of Greece motif. Scattered across this surface are a vista of small sculptures and found objects; a black rubber Adidas saddle; an aquarium ornament in the form of a crashed helicopter; a Versace ad torn from a glossy magazine; amorphous lumps suggesting petrified decaying flesh, or coral. Together these elements might evoke the flat expanse of the sea bed, or a room prepped for some messy, possibly violent activity.
On the opening night this environment was activated with a performance which re-arranges the objects and sculptures into groups. Through a labor of loose association, Keogh picked his way through the installation to synthesize relationships between three emergent sets; the crime scene of the murder of Gianni Versace; a cemetery for war veterans in New Jersey; and the red-marble clad lobby of Dortmund’s Unique Hotel. Each set pollutes the other two to form a knot, or bind, or a writhing tangle of disparate threads. At the sets’ intersections, flesh is turned to stone, images bleed and glamour is de-sublimated into violence. After the opening night, the film made through the performance is projected into the installation.
This exhibition asks how surface and texture can transmit narrative, and how narrative can metamorphose matter into new forms, make history haptic, tangible and malleable. The borders of the works’ own categories are flexed, permeated, or morphed into breathable membranes. Paintings become photographs, photographs become sculptures, sculptures become props in a performance which scramble and rescramble these categories.
Keogh lives and works in Amsterdam. He is currently artist in residence at “De Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten” in Amsterdam. The exhibition ‘Eurocopter 135’ is Keogh’s first solo exhibition in a German institution.